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Annual food drive Wednesday evening

Local kids ringing doorbells tomorrow night won’t be looking for candy, but rather, something more nutritious.

Youth will collect food donations for Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes around Powell from 5:30-8 p.m. Wednesday as part of the 31st annual Fall Food Drive.

After a busy summer, the local food pantry needs to replenish its shelves going into the holiday season.

“We are down on everything … peanut butter, tuna, pasta, soups, vegetables, fruit — everything,” said Cindy Balderas, treasurer for Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes. All food donations must be non-perishable and professionally processed.

Donations tend to dwindle in summer months when people are out of town and out of the normal routine. Visits to the food pantry, however, stay constant.

“We have just been swamped,” Balderas said.

Every month, Loaves and Fishes provides food for more than 300 people. In May, the pantry helped 409 people, making up 114 local families.

From January through September, the nonprofit has provided food for 806 families, with a total of 2,930 people served. Residents are counted each time they visit the pantry, so those numbers include repeat families and individuals who receive food each month.

“We’ve just had an influx of people using the pantry,” she said. “I’m not sure if it’s job-related … I’m not really sure. It’s just constant.”

The local pantry depends on the community for food and monetary support, Balderas said.

“We’re hoping for the best with the food drive,” she said.

Kids with the Youth Clubs of Park County will go to homes around the Powell Club on Wednesday afternoon, while youth with local churches and school groups will go to other neighborhoods around Powell from 5:30-8 p.m.

“We do try to have enough kids to canvass the whole town,” Balderas said.

Loaves and Fishes doesn’t have the manpower to go to homes in the country, and sometimes, houses in town are accidentally missed during the drive. If someone doesn’t come by your house on Wednesday night, you can take food items to the collection bins at Blair’s Super Market or Mr. D’s in Powell. The Powell post office will collect donations throughout the day Wednesday, and food can also be taken to the Park County Annex the night of the drive, Balderas said.

If you’re not going to be home Wednesday evening, leave donations on your doorstep.

Balderas said the community’s support is appreciated, as are the volunteers who make the annual food drive possible.

For youth involved with the drive, Balderas said she hopes it’s a rewarding experience as they give back to the community.

“We want them to understand that they’re doing something for the community, that they’re doing something to help out the citizens of Powell who are your neighbors, friends, whoever it might be,” Balderas said. “We’re just trying to let them know it’s a good thing to have community spirit.”

Youth will be accompanied by adults, and they’re encouraged to be careful as they’re out on local streets.

“Above all, we want the safety of anyone who’s out there doing work for us,” Balderas said.

Volunteers who help distribute food at the Park County Annex throughout the year also are appreciated, she said.

“Not only do we have a great board to work with, but we have these awesome volunteers who give up their time to provide food for these clients,” Balderas said.

Residents can receive food from Loaves and Fishes once per month. Food is distributed from 9-11:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays at the Park County Annex. Folks should call the annex at 754-8800 to schedule an appointment to pick up food.

Everything that happens at the pantry is confidential, Balderas said.

It is humbling to ask for food, and she said Loaves and Fishes respects clients’ privacy.

“We really want to respect that, and we want them to know that it’s OK, that they’re not alone, and they’re not the only ones who are going there,” Balderas said.

In addition to non-perishable food, Loaves and Fishes also offers coupons for fresh eggs, milk and bread, which can be used at Mr. D’s or Blair’s.

If hunters have meat that they’re not going to use, Loaves and Fishes would be happy to take it, Balderas said. Meat must be professionally processed, she said.

Monetary donations will be collected during Wednesday’s drive or can be mailed to Loaves and Fishes at P.O. Box 992, Powell WY 82435.

The nonprofit is starting its 34th year in the Powell community.

“We’re plugging along,” she said, adding, “It’s been a long run.”

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