Pantries amazed at ‘CAN do it!’ cans

Published 1:02 am Sunday, February 28, 2010

NATCHEZ — Feed the Hungry Director Linda Bonnette says stocking more than 7,000 cans of food on the shelves is no easy feat, but it’s worth breaking a sweat.

The Natchez Democrat’s We CAN do it! food drive collected more than 16,000 cans for local food pantries. Half of the cans were distributed to Feed the Hungry in Vidalia, while the other half were distributed to the Natchez Food Pantry.

When Bonnette was first notified about the newspaper’s drive, she assumed she would collect 1,000 to 1,500 cans. She never imagined the Miss-Lou community would respond as they did, and she never imagined schools, churches and businesses would build unique structures with their donations.

“They did things I couldn’t dream of doing with canned food,” Bonnette said. “We’re still truly amazed at it all. It is the biggest (collection) we have ever received.

“We appreciate everybody there at The Democrat, and whomever came up with this idea is certainly a blessing to us. We know how it feels to go out to the warehouse and you look around and it’s kind of bare and you’re wondering how you’re going to make it for the next month.”

Feed The Hungry distributed 50-pound boxes of food to 275 families Saturday, and today, Bonnette looks forward to learning the winners of the We CAN do it! structure contest. The names of the winners can be found in The Democrat’s Profile 2010 edition, inside today’s newspaper.

Community members cast 50-cent votes for their favorite structure, raising $2,000 for the Natchez Stewpot.

Like Bonnette, Natchez Food Pantry Director Tommy Jackson was amazed by the community’s response. Unfortunately, the overwhelming number of cans wasn’t enough to keep the pantry’s doors open.

The pantry will close at the end of March due to poor economic conditions, however, Jackson applauds the newspaper’s efforts to replenish the pantry’s shelves during what’s typically a sluggish time of the year.

“(The drive) was an unbelievable benefit to us,” Jackson said. “We were able to feed more than 800 families, which is a total of 2,100 people.”

“Had it not been for The Democrat and the community, we wouldn’t have been able to make it this last time.”