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Keep food drive on your gift list

With a week to go before Christmas and two weeks to the end of 2018, it’s time for the annual reminder to push the ACCESS Food for Hope drive over the finish line and help the agency meet its goal to start the new year. This year, there is an extra incentive to drop off those food items or make that cash contribution: Philip Yates, ACCESS’ longtime spokesman, is retiring after nearly 30 years.

Yates was always the one to remind us that it was time to promote the annual appearance of grocery bags in copies of the Mail Tribune, and he was always available when we wanted to do an update on how the drive was progressing.

This year, the goal is 20,000 pounds of food and $40,000 in donations. As of Monday, collections totaled 8,000 pounds and $8,000. Still, Yates isn’t worried, because “this community always comes through.”

We couldn’t agree more. We have always been impressed with the generosity of this community’s residents, and we share his optimism.

As he puts it, when there is a genuine need, and you tell people about it, they respond.

In the past year, 27,000 people turned to local food banks to keep food on their tables. Since Yates started with ACCESS in 1991, the agency has gone from providing 500,000 pounds of food to nearly 4.3 million pounds.

In Jackson County, 35 percent of households don’t earn enough money to meet basic needs. More than half are working, retired or disabled, and 30 percent are children.

For a complete list of food drop-off locations and hours, visit ACCESS online.

The emphasis is always on food, but don’t feel obligated to make a special trip to drop off food items if you’re pressed for time. Cash donations can be more powerful than food items.

Because of ACCESS’ purchasing power, the agency is able to buy enough food for five meals for every dollar donated. In addition, ACCESS has costs that can only be paid for with money. Boxes of food won’t pay the power bill, service and maintain refrigeration equipment, put fuel in trucks or pay employees.

For information on making a donation, call 541-774-4321, or go online.

We thank Philip Yates for his years of dedication, and wish him a fulfilling retirement.

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