The new year started on a positive note for the Jasper County Salvation Army after receiving an estimated 20,000 pounds of donations from a local grocery store.
In December, Fareway Stores, Inc. announced the purchase of Shugar’s in Colfax, which had been serving the community for 26 years. The Shugar family had decided to retire and felt confident leaving the store in Fareway’s care.
Shugar’s final day was Dec. 30 and would clear the way for Fareway to begin its transition of the store. One of the first steps in that process was finding a home for the remaining inventory in the store. Fareway decided to keep it local and reached out to the Jasper County Salvation Army to donate the remaining stock to the local food pantry.
“The Salvation Army in Newton has been a really great local partner of ours in food rescue efforts so essentially we were just really excited to continue to support and serve families in the Newton-Colfax area,” Emily Toribio, Fareway corporate outreach and communications manager said.
A Fareway representative spoke to the Salvation Army Food Pantry Coordinator Ed Poe Dec. 30 and staff began to get a plan together on how to get the items from Colfax to Newton.
“Ed came down the hall and said it’s a good thing we didn’t order from the food bank this month,” case manager Kelly Zach said.
Zach said a group from the Salvation Army went to Colfax to see what kind of inventory was left in the store but didn’t get to there before the store closed, so they really had no idea what was coming from Shugar’s.
Poe took the lead and put a plan in place. He, Captain Janelle Cleaveland and six other volunteers met with a man from Fareway corporate first thing Monday, Jan. 4 to collect the items. The crew worked until about 11:30 a.m. and brought home two 12-passenger van loads, a minivan load and a truck full of items to Newton. If there had been even one more box, Cleaveland said it wouldn’t have fit in the vehicles.
“Everything was packed to the limit and that was after emptying the big van once because we took a trip back to get more boxes and empty the van. Everything that was in that store except for alcohol came back to the Salvation Army,” Cleaveland said.
On top of the food items, the donation included everyday items like trash bags, light bulbs, school supplies, health and beauty products, feminine products and more. They also received items like cleaning supplies, bleach and hand sanitizer that can go to people who can’t afford those items but need it to keep themselves safe during the ongoing pandemic.
“We’re still going through it. It’ll be available to people who need it in the community. We’ve already started putting some of it out in our entryway for people to come and take,” Cleaveland said.
One helpful item the Salvation Army received was the remaining Shugar’s grocery bags. Cleaveland said they were beneficial because staff continues to bag all items for clients because of COVID-19.
The Salvation Army does plan to share items with other agencies and places that can use them. For example, they received quite a bit of dog food and dog treats, which is something they don’t give out a lot. Cleaveland plans to reach out to Lucy’s Pet Pantry to see if they would be able use those items to stock their shelves.
“Community partnerships go a long way with a nonprofit organization. I just love having these partnerships where if we can’t take care of a need we can call someone else that can take care of a need. We take care of a lot of needs but we can all work together to get someone taken care of one way or another,” Zach said.
November and December is typically when the Salvation Army receives the majority of its donations that will have to last for several months. The donation for Shugar’s will just help the food pantry stay stocked longer and help those who really need it.
“It was a huge blessing and a great way to start the new year,” Cleaveland said. “We just want to say a big thank you to Fareway for their support. They support us all year round with Kettles that they thought of us for this and they knew what we do in the community and how that would help us help more people and we just appreciate that.”
Toribio said the grocery chain has tried to remain “good stewards” of its resources in order to get food in the hands of people who need it the most. It would have been easy to just discard the items they didn’t need, but it was better served finding a place for the product to go within Jasper County while they were still usable.
“At the end of the day, it’s about local product staying in the local community and feeding local families,” Toribio said.
Contact Pam Pratt at 641-792-3121 ext. 6530 or email@example.com