Published Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Blessings: Can-A-Thon effort works to feed hungry year-round

By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL

sarah@newnan.com

Today is a day of giving thanks and eating ridiculous amounts of food.

But for far too many Cowetans, a decent meal can be hard to come by.

That's where organizations such as the Coweta Community Food Pantry come in. The food pantry provides emergency food supplies to needy Cowetans year-round. This year the pantry is on track to serve 20,000 people.

The pantry feeds those people with food and monetary donations collected during the annual post-Thanksgiving Coweta Can-A-Thon. There was a time that the Can-A-Thon donations lasted almost all year. These days, they don't, but they are still the bulk of what the pantry gets to give out.

The Can-A-Thon concludes on Tuesday with the day-long pubic drop off.

Canned and other non-perishable food items, as well as monetary donations of cash and checks, may be dropped off at Can-A-Thon collection sites from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in downtown Newnan and downtown Senoia.

Volunteers from the Newnan Junior Service League and other organizations will be manning the donation points and unloading the cans.

People "can just drive up and point to where the cans are. They don't have to do anything," said Ginny Lambert, Can-A-Thon committee co-chairwoman for the Junior League, which has put on the event for the last 29 years.

"It's literally a drive-by can drop off," she said. "We'll be there — rain, shine, or snow."

This year's goal is 300,000 in food items and cash equivalent. Monetary donations are calculated at three cans per dollar.

Checks should be made out to the Newnan Junior Service League, she said.

"We appreciate the support we have gotten," over the years, Lambert said. "We can always use more support," she said.

After Thanksgiving, "it's time to de-clutter," Lambert said. "The food pantry has been pretty low on food. We need everyone to get in their pantry and clean it out," she said. "Bring whatever you have left over from Thanksgiving this year — leftover green beans, sweet potato, pumpkin," she said.

And "you always have extra soup cans in your pantry," said Carolyn Harrison, Lambert's co-chairwoman.

"If each individual in the county could just bring five or six" items, "we can exceed our goal," said Lambert.

"This really is the one thing that every person in Coweta County always pulls together for," said Kelly Hines of the Junior League. "And we could not do it without the help from the school system," said Hines. Local businesses and governments pitch in, too. "It's a group effort," Hines said.

So far, things have been going really smoothly this year, Lambert said.

And the Coweta school system support is great, as usual. Students have had great, creative ideas to raise money for the Can-A-Thon, said Harrison.

"The community support already is just amazing," said Lambert. "We're very blessed to be part of this."

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