A successful and historic food drive was recently completed by the Payson Area Food Drive organization to keep the food banks’ shelves from being emptied. This food drive was historic because of the severe economic recession and job losses that affected so many families in the Payson and surrounding areas. It was also historic because of the wide and effective participation of many sections of the community to reach the very high goals of collecting 50,000 pounds of food and $20,000.
Under the able direction of Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, the community was mobilized with committees of churches, businesses, health providers and hospitals, service clubs, youth groups, and government entities. Many segments of the community were involved. Participation and support was given from the youngest Cub Scout, Boy Scouts, high school students to our senior citizens.
Churches had special drives on Soup-er Sunday. People stood out in the cold weather in front of grocery stores to take collections. Tons of food were moved by the Boy Scouts daily from collection boxes as well as going door-to-door with a food drive through neighborhoods. Tons of food were sorted and reboxed for distribution.
All major grocery stores assisted by donating thousands of bags for the Scout food drives. Approximately 100 donation collection boxes from APS were placed in stores, businesses, medical facilities, government offices and churches. Printing was donated by PostNet.
Our mascot, Woody the Squirrel, came alive with an expensive costume constructed and donated by a talented 16-year-old, Denna Biesemeyer. A high school class held a “Soup Kitchen” to collect money. The high school Honor Society had a benefit run that collected more food and money. All of these were ideas of high school students.
Media support was exemplary, with Payson Roundup newspaper front page coverage over a three-month period and the frequent live announcements on KMOG.
The Payson Town Council gave us great support with four of its members on our committees. These are a few of the examples of people working hard to help their neighbors in temporary need.
The two major Rotary Clubs donated $2,500. Medical offices forfeited their Christmas gift monies to donate to the food drive. Money continues to come into our fund as of this date.
Most importantly, the individual citizen came forth to donate what they could. I know of one man who donated $5 and then told us he had been laid off from his job that day and was facing an unknown future. Not only did people share, at times they sacrificed.
Little children gave food to “Woody.” Every penny and every can of food will go to assist a family in need in the Payson area.
By working together, many new friendships were formed and will be treasured in the years to come.
Although at times we may disagree on any number of issues with our neighbors, let us remember our common interests in the welfare of our neighbors and how wonderful they are. Let us look for things that we agree on and can work together for the common good.
May I express on the behalf of the PAFD organization, my thanks to all the wonderful people in Payson and the surrounding communities. Because of you, there will be food on the shelves of our food banks this winter and spring to assist our neighbors in need.
Payson, you are the big heart of Arizona.