|Ocala, FL -
October 23, 2011 |
Published in the Ocala Star-Banner on Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 6:30 a.m.
With just two days left of the community food drive Bring the Harvest Home, Ocala/Marion County should be proud of itself... and grateful.
As of Friday, more than 10 tons of food — that’s right, 20,000 pounds — had been collected from a broad spectrum of community organizations, employers, service clubs, schools and individuals. Some of the biggest donors have been Church of Hope, the Chamber of Commerce, Munroe Regional, Ocala Regional, Lockheed Martin, the school system and Signature Brands.
But along with those big names have been scores of small businesses, churches and civic clubs whose employees and members have joined to pitch in bags full of groceries and toiletry items.
And every bit of it has been needed. We visited the Interfaith Emergency Services warehouse mid-week and were witness to the wonderful and moving generosity of our community.
We watched pallets of food coming in the back door — a truckload carrying 3,000 pounds of food donated by Munroe Regional employees had just arrived — and we saw it being bagged up and handed out to our needy friends and neighbors. In short, the need is so great and our fellow Ocala/Marion Countians so desperate, the food was seemingly going out the front door as fast as it was coming in the back door.
Yet, thank goodness for Bring the Harvest Home and, more to the point, for the caring, compassionate community we all call home. What would those who are hungry do if it were not for the current food drive?
It is not difficult for any of us who have lived through the Great Recession here in Ocala/Marion County to understand why the need is so great, why so many people must worry about where they will get their next meal. The latest unemployment figures were released Friday and the news, while encouraging — the jobless rate fell slightly to 12.4 percent — it marked the 36th consecutive month of double-digit unemployment here. In real numbers, there are more than 25,000 local residents without work, and tens of thousands more who are underemployed.
We have been moved by the response to Bring the Harvest Home. From County Commissioner Mike Amsden and the employees of the county government, who have provided critical leadership and manpower, to former Ocala mayor Gerald Ergle, who has been working tirelessly behind to the scenes to solicit help, to the scores of local businesses and organizations that have conducted their own in-house food drives to make the bigger campaign the success that it is, our community has once again shown that when our neighbors are in need, we generously open our hearts and our wallets.
Tuesday is the official end of Bring the Harvest Home. The need is still great, so, please donate to this wonderful and worthy cause. Coming together works, and we are so proud and grateful for all the community has done so far to make this campaign a success.
Donations can be dropped off at any county fire station, sheriff’s substation or at Interfaith in downtown Ocala.