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Community comes through for annual food drive

Eastern Arizona Courier Article by Kim Smith

The Double R Communications Elementary School Food Drive brought in a record number of donations this year with 23,200 pounds being collected and another 1,000 pounds plus being donated by Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center.

Rachel Allred’s fifth grade class at Thatcher Elementary School brought in the highest number of cans (3,155). They and the other top classes from each school won a trophy from Trophies N’ Tees, a pizza and cupcake party and a visit from a LifeNet helicopter.

“I’d really like to thank the community for all of the volunteers who showed up (to unload the donations) and for everyone else for being so giving,” said Dana Larchick, manager of Our Neighbors Farm and Pantry. “The volunteers came out in full force. We live in such a great community.”

Larchick said that of course, a huge “Thank you” is owed to Reed Richins and the rest of the folks at Double R.

Our Neighbors Executive Director Stacey Scarce said this year’s haul far outweighed last year’s total of 16,000 and even exceeded 2019’s record 20,000 pounds.

“This food drive is what sustains us. We’re extremely grateful,” Scarce said. “We have smaller drives throughout the year, but this drive normally keeps us in food into the summer. This one will take us all the way through summer.”

Our Neighbors experienced a huge influx of people needing food at the beginning of COVID-19, waned and now is picking up again, Scarce said.

Eighty percent of their clientele only come one to three times a year, so that means they’re seeing new people all of the time, she said.

“The seniors aren’t coming in like they used to and we’re seeing a tremendous amount of new families,” Scarce said. “I think a lot of the seniors are reluctant to get out, can’t get out or aren’t with us anymore.”

Volunteers from the community are also sorely needed. On distribution days, it’s up to her and one volunteer assisting sometimes 50-plus families, she said. Anyone interested may call her at 337-326-0709 for details.

This year’s other winning classes were:

• Mrs. Castro’s class at Lafe Nelson — 1,342 cans

• Ms. Evans’ class at Ruth Powell — 1,174 cans

• Mrs. Dillman’s class at Solomon Elementary — 722 cans

• Mrs. Jackson’s class at Dorothy Stinson — 584 cans

• Miss Nora’s class at TLC — 500 cans

• Ms. Fox’s class at Thatcher Primary — 352 cans

• Mr. Kelvin’s class at Dan Hinton — 350 cans

• Mrs. Jarvis’ class at Discovery Plus Academy — 228 cans

• Mrs. Willis’s class at Pima Elementary — 215 cans

Sponsors include Valley Furniture, Domino’s Pizza, Graham County Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties, Trophies N Tees, Cakes with TLC, Sparklight, Mack’s Auto Supply and Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center.

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