Between 40 and 50 tons of food have been collected by Latter-day Saints here and donated to local charities to feed the homeless and needy.
The San Diego county-wide food drive, under the direction of Pres. M. Steven Andersen of the El Cajon California Stake, began in mid-November and concluded Dec. 20."In spite of record employment, many people in our county remain underemployed and have a difficult time meeting basic needs," Pres. Andersen said. "In addition, many local charities have emptied their shelves to send assistance to the victims of the recent hurricane in Mexico, and their pantries are bare as we approach the winter when needs are greatest."
Pres. Andersen added that the goal was 1,000 pounds per ward and there are more than 100 wards in San Diego County.
Among charities receiving donations were the Salvation Army, North County Interfaith Council, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Charities, North County Food Co-op, Faith and Love Ministries in Vista, Crisis House in El Cajon, Thursday's Meal in Chula Vista and Brother Benno's Pantry in Oceanside. An additional 6,500 pounds of food was delivered to the North County Food Co-op and St. Vincent de Paul from members of the Church outside San Diego County through the regional storehouse in Colton, Calif.
Marion Keller, program manager of Catholic Charities, remarked in a letter to project organizers in Del Cerro and La Mesa: "People often share with us items from their pantries that are surplus goods. But, I must tell you that in the 16 years I've been here I have never received such a load of newly purchased, perfectly appropriate items. The soups, one-dish meals, canned vegetables, sugar, condiments and other staple goods will keep us going for many months."
Ron Miller, director of Crisis House in El Cajon, commented as he helped load an estimated 8,000 pounds of food: "We assist more than 400 families, and many nights I have awakened in a cold sweat wondering how we will be able to feed everyone during the holidays. I'm not worried now. I really thank God for this."
Eagle Scout candidate Jeff McConnell, 16, directed the food collection for the Penasquitos 3rd Ward as a service project, organizing the youth to canvass Church members and neighbors for needed items. His efforts resulted in 1,265 pounds of commodities that he delivered in person to North County Food Co-op.