Annual Can-A-Thon reaches milestone

by Sarah Fay Campbell


Tom Corker, founder of the Coweta Can-A-Thon, and Lee Daniel, who, along with his late wife, Gloria, was instrumental in founding the Coweta Community Food Pantry, were at the 30th annual Can-A-Thon collection on Tuesday, as was Penny Williams, a Junior Leaguer who was at the first Can-A-Thon. Pictured are, left to right: Newnan Junior Service League President Andrea Newton, Vice President Many Barrett, Can-A-Thon Co-Chair Ginny Lambert, Food Pantry Executive Director Derenda Rowe, Williams, Corker, Daniel, and Can-A-Thon Co-Chair Carolyn Henderson. Not pictured are Harry Barrow and Renee McGraw, who were also involved in the early years. 

Tuesday's culmination of the 30th annual Coweta Can-A-Thon was rainy, but that didn't stop Cowetans from coming out in full force to drop off their donations of food and money.

And at least it wasn't too cold for the small army of volunteers working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at two locations.

"We might be soaking wet with the rain, but our hearts are full from giving," said Carolyn Henderson, co-chair of the Can-A-Thon for the Newnan Junior Service League, which has organized the Can-A-Thon since its beginning.

Henderson manned the new drop-off point at Thomas Crossroads, in the Goodwill parking lot. It replaced the downtown Senoia location, and joined the longtime Newnan Court Square drop-off.

The new location was very successful — and is expected to be even more so in coming years.

"It's new, so people weren't sure where we were," said Andrew Newton, Junior League president. Plus, there was the weather. Even with both of those factors, "I think we had a great turnout.”

By 4 p.m., the donations at the Thomas Crossroads location had already exceeded those from a full day in Senoia — and that didn’t include the monetary donations, which are calculated at three cans per dollar.

No final totals were available late Tuesday, but they should be released today.

Even without firm totals, Co-Chair Ginny Lambert dubbed the 30th annual event "another successful year."

"It makes you very proud of your community to see everyone come out and give a little bit back," Lambert said. "People will come out rain or shine, and give what they can."

"We appreciate all the community support," said Newton. "I hope we made the founding Can-A-Thoners proud."

"We are just excited to be a part of it," she said.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary, some of those involved in the original Can-A-Thon were invited to come out. On hand were founder Tom Corker and Lee Daniel, who, along with his late wife, Gloria, was instrumental in founding the Coweta Community Food Pantry. The pantry is the recipient of the food raised at the Can-A-Thon, and provides year-round assistance. Also on hand was Junior Leaguer Penny Williams, who worked the very first Can-A-Thon.

Corker was asked if he ever expected the food drive to be going strong after 30 years. "After the first one, yes," Corker said. "We've got a good setup," he said. "The Junior League does an excellent job every year," he said. And Newnan Utilities "does a tremendous job" getting the food items from the downtown drop-off point to the food pantry, which is now located at 320-C Temple Avenue in part of the former Playtex plant.

The Coweta County School System, local private schools and even day-care centers take the Can-A-Thon seriously.

And the schools are doing more than collecting food for the needy.

"They are teaching kids the importance of giving back to the community — but in a fun way," Corker said.

It's a huge community event.

"I can't say enough about everyone in Coweta County," said Corker. "It's just amazing."

And everything "goes directly back into our community," added Lambert.

After the Can-A-Thon comes the "sort-a-thon." It takes a lot of work to get a few hundred thousand food items sorted and shelved or stored at the food pantry. Anyone interested in volunteering can stop off at the food pantry during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The pantry is housed with One Roof Ecumenical Outreach.

Churches have signed up to work on Saturdays and Sundays, but there may be a few weekend volunteer slots available.

Anyone who wants to volunteer on the weekend, or for more information, can contact the food pantry at 770-683-7705 or e-mail .

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