Junior League gearing up for annual Can-A-Thon
By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
It’s time again for the annual Coweta Can-A-Thon, organized by the Newnan Junior Service League.
Food and money raised during the Can-A-Thon goes to the Coweta Community Food Pantry, which provides emergency food disbursements to Cowetans in need year-round.
The final drop-off event is always held the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Collection points will be set up in downtown Newnan and downtown Senoia.
This will be the 29th annual Can-A-Thon event.
You don’t have to wait until Nov. 27 to make your donation. Coweta County school students will be busy collecting food items and monetary donations all month long. You can also drop off food or donations at the SummerGrove, White Oak or Canongate golf courses throughout the month.
The Junior League’s office will be open for donations this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The office is located at 6 East Washington St. in downtown Newnan. The group is also selling all three of their awarded-winning cookbooks: “A Taste of Georgia,” “A Taste of Georgia: Second Helping,” and “Simply Southern,” in a bundle for $25.
The Can-A-Thon “really makes such a difference to the growing number of people in our community that are in need, who are hungry,” said Kelly Hines of the Junior League. “This is a critical event,” she said.
“The Newnan Junior Service League is very proud to continue our tradition of helping our community through the 29th year of our Can-A-Thon,” said Ginny Lambert, Can-A-Thon chairwoman. “Seeing our community come together, year after year, to help those in need during the winter months is something we should all be proud of. We hope that we will continue to see the same high level of support from the Coweta community again this year.”
The support is needed. The food pantry is feeding an average of 1,500 people a month, said pantry Executive Director Derenda Rowe.
Because of the high demand, the pantry has cut back on the amount of food it gives at one time.
“We used to say it was seven to 10 days of food,” said Rowe. “Now it is five to seven days of food.” And that’s a bare bones three meals a day.
The pantry serves Coweta residents only, and they must be referred by an approved agency or submit information to the food pantry to make sure they are qualified to receive the food.
There was a time the pantry would only serve the same family once or twice a year. But in the current economic situation, Rowe allows families to get food each month, if they need it.
“Back when things were booming, anybody could have a bad week,” Rowe said. “But now we have realized that people have ongoing needs,” she said. “Many of the people we see — their only income is food stamps,” she said.
And though many do get food stamps, they don’t get enough to fully feed their families. Many households the pantry serves actually consist of multiple families, because family members have had to move in with each other.
Since the recession began in 2008, Rowe said the number of people the pantry serves has increased about 5,000 each year. This year isn’t over, of course, but “I think we’re going to be close to what we fed last year,” Rowe said. “I think we’ve leveled off,” she said.
That doesn’t mean things are getting a lot better. But maybe they’ve stopped getting worse.
“I do have some people that I know pretty well, that help us, that have gotten jobs,” Rowe said. But “I’m still every day seeing people that need a job and I’m seeing people that have just gotten laid off,” she said.
“We do occasionally have somebody say ‘well I hope this is my last time, I got a job,’” Rowe said. “And right behind them is someone saying ‘my husband just got laid off,’” Rowe said.
“We have a lot of people that we helped in the past that we’re not seeing now, but we’re seeing new people,” she said.
It’s always tough for the food pantry to make it through November, the slimmest time of the year, before the Can-A-Thon donations roll in. The bulk of the food donated in the Can-A-Thon runs out around March, Rowe said.
“We have struggled,” Rowe said.
Several churches and organizations have been making donations recently. “Lots of people have come up with ideas all over town to make what we are doing not quite so hard,” Rowe said.
“We certainly appreciate what everybody has done.”
In addition to donations, the pantry can always use volunteers to help organize and sort. Volunteers are especially needed who can help during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday through Friday. “We need people to come and help all over our building,” said Rowe.
The Coweta Community Food Pantry is located at 320 C Temple Avenue, Newnan, in the same building as One Roof Outreach. The facility is on the grounds of the former Playtex plant, just east of the Hwy. 34 Bypass.
For more information about the pantry, call 770-683-7705 or e-mail email@example.com .
The facility is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Food pantry disbursements are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information about the Newnan Junior Service League, visit www.njslonline.org .