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Food drive season kicks off

As the night air gets crisper and living expenses more costly, some Federal Way residents will be forced to rely on the kindness of others to survive this fall.

For the 15th year, the Multi-Service Center and the city will host the Mayor's Day of Concern for the Hungry food drive. Federal Way residents are encouraged to donate food and cash from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, to the Multi-Service Center's Federal Way Food Bank.

The food drive is one of three large drives the Multi-Service Center holds each year.

This year's drive will differ slightly from previous years, but the need for donations remains the same, said Pam Taylor, Multi-Service Center director of fund development. The food drive is essential because, often times, the food supply is depleted at the end of the summer season, Taylor said.

"This is the jump-off of the food drive season," said Denise Burns, Federal Way Food and Clothing Bank supervisor.

The food bank is now stocked mostly with goods that the Multi-Service Center bought in bulk at discounted prices, Taylor said.

A little assistance

At the Federal Way Food Bank, a pile of clothes sits in a large bin, boxes of facial tissue stacked 4 feet high rest on the floor, and small bags of rice, among other items, wait to be consumed. But these goods are not enough to feed everyone who needs a little extra assistance, Taylor said.

Annually, the Mayor's Day of Concern for the Hungry food drive assists people through the holiday season.

In 2006, the center gathered nearly 6,000 pounds of food via the food drive, Burns said. That amount of food will last about one month, she said.

The Federal Way Food Bank serves about 3,600 people, or 1,100 households, Burns said. About 500 families visit the food bank weekly, she said. Many of these people are living on fixed incomes. Roughly 40 percent of the people who rely on the food bank are working residents, Burns said.

"We find that the food bank is used to stretch people's incomes," Taylor said.

Senior citizens or disabled residents, some forced to live on $600 a month, visit the food bank, Burns said. Homeless individuals rely on it as well. Children comprise about 47 percent of the population that survives with the Federal Way Food Bank's assistance, according to a September 25 Multi-Service Center press release.

"Most of the people that walk through the (Federal Way Food Bank's) door need us," Burns said.

Dual food drives

This year, the food drive will occur the same day as the annual Prudential Northwest Realty food drive. Items from both drives will be distributed to those who need them from Federal Way Food Bank.

Non-perishable goods and cash donations will be collected at both drives. Canned goods, proteins, produce and dairy products are sorely needed. Sanitation items, such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo and feminine hygiene products, should not be forgotten, Burns said. Diapers, baby formula and baby food are also needed.

Volunteers will provide shoppers at the participating grocers with a list of items that can be donated.

The volunteers will remain at the door of each grocery store throughout the day. The Federal Way Youth Ecology, Todd Beamer High School ROTC and community volunteers will offer their services for the Mayor's Day of Concern for the Hungry food drive. Without the volunteers' help, the food drives would not be possible, Burns said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

To learn more about the Mayor's Day of Concern for the Hungry or the Federal Way Food Bank, visit the Multi-Service Center's Web site at www.multi-servicecenter.com. To volunteer for this food drive or other events, call Pam Taylor at (253) 835-7675, Ext. 105.

Volunteers will collect food and cash donations Oct. 6 at both Federal Way Wal-Mart stores, 1900 S. 314th St. and 34520 16th Ave. S.; H-Mart, 31217 Pacific Highway S.; and the Twin Lakes Fred Meyer, 33702 21st Ave. S.W.

Prudential Northwest Realty will collect food and cash donations 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Metropolitan Market, 1618 S.W. Dash Point Road; Albertson's, 31009 Pacific Highway South; and Safeway, 1207 S. 320th St.

Making a difference

Kent resident Ted Gimlin, 66, has volunteered at the Federal Way Food Bank for the past five years.

Three to four days a week, he will drive to local grocery stores and pick up donations, he said.

Many grocers provide their day-old breads, pastries and other goods to the food bank, Burns said. Some grocers stand out more than others, though.

In terms of the quantity of food donated, Trader Joe's, 32073 Pacific Highway S., and WinCo Foods, 106 S.W. Campus Drive, stand out for their generosity, Gimlin said.

As a kid, Gimlin was heavily influenced by volunteers and would have ended up in prison or dead if not for the Boy Scouts of America volunteers, he said. Now, he has a chance to give back to his community. Gimlin volunteers because he does not get the opportunity to make a real difference in people's lives often, he said.

"It's nice to be able to help people," he said.

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