Thanks to a wave of financial donations, the Payson Area Food Drive is progressing, but still has a long way to go to meet its Feb. 3 collection goals.
The yearly food drive, which benefits all area food banks, has collected $38,000 toward its $50,000 goal and 33,600 pounds of food as of Thursday.
While financial donations are strong, canned donations have just barely passed the halfway mark with just less than a month left in the drive.
PAFD chair Roger Kreimeyer is optimistic upcoming fund-raisers will bring in the needed donations to make the 65,000-pound goal.
“The money has picked up and we are looking to pick up on food,” he said.
Kreimeyer says getting the drive qualified for the Working Poor Tax Credit gave the drive a substantial boost in donations this year. Couples could give up to $400 and individuals $200 through Jan. 1. While checks are still accepted, the credit would apply on next year’s taxes.
So far, donations to the drive total $38,000. That does not include money donated directly to St. Vincent de Paul, the largest food bank in Rim Country. St. Vincent officials have refused so far this year to disclose how much money they have received.
Last year, the drive met its $35,000 goal through a combination of $14,000 donated directly to the drive and another $21,000 through St. Vincent.
Even with St. Vincent keeping its tally private, Kreimeyer is confident organizers can reach the $50,000 goal by Feb. 3.
“At this point, we have made good progress,” he said. “We still have significant need in the area and I appreciate the community’s continued donations.”
None of the area food banks have tapped into this year’s donations. Kreimeyer said normally about February or March they need help supplementing their food supply and buying additional supplies.
Last year, donations lasted through October.
“Right now, (the food banks) are still self sufficient, but we know the need is coming.”
Upcoming events include a donation drive at the Fiesta Bowl Parade Spirit of Payson Celebration Thursday. Attendees are asked to bring a can of food to the 4 p.m. event at Payson High School’s football field parking lot. The event will honor those who helped build the award-winning float and tree costumes.
On Jan. 25 and 26, catch some of those Fiesta Bowl Parade trees outside local grocery stores. The trees will become “money trees,” collecting donations for the drive. People can pin their donation envelopes on the tree branches.
Also on Jan. 26, there will be a free showing of DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon” at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 913 S. Ponderosa St. at 6:30 p.m. Admission is two cans of food per person.
The Boy Scouts are tentatively scheduled to hold a door-to-door collection drive in early February and the PAFD will culminate with a food drive at local churches’ Soup-er Bowl Sunday.
Kreimeyer thanked everyone helping with the drive especially Mac Feezor for coordinating food collections and the Rotary Club for sorting, weighing and boxing the food.
To make sure your donations benefit the PAFD, send checks to PAFD, P.O. Box 703, Payson, AZ 85547 or drop food donations off in a collection box. Those are located at the post office, library, Gila County Health Department and Assessor’s Office, Town Community Development, Town Hall lobby, Canal Senior Apartments, Green Valley Apartments, most health care offices, grocery stores and the Payson Roundup office.