Residents pack seven trucks with food for Pack the Pickup

Published 12:06 am Thursday, December 18, 2014

Meg Freeman, above, reaches for grocery sacks as she helps unload food from one of the trucks filled with donated food. (Ben Hilyer / The Natchez Democrat)

Meg Freeman, above, reaches for grocery sacks as she helps unload food from one of the trucks filled with donated food. (Ben Hilyer / The Natchez Democrat)

Some gave by the can, others by the cartload.

But in just three hours, grocery shoppers in the Miss-Lou donated seven pickup trucks worth of groceries to the Natchez Stewpot during the Pack the Pickup food drive Tuesday evening.

The drive — organized by the Adams County Board of Supervisors and staffed by the supervisors and county employees volunteering their time — was in its second iteration, surpassing 2013’s three trucks of donations.

“We have got food stacked everywhere right now,” Stewpot Director Louis Gunning said. “We are taken care of for three to four months at least. It was a really big help to us, and we have food drives all the time, but they are not usually that much in quantity.”

The Stewpot serves free, hot meals to anyone who needs them.

The supervisors and other volunteers stood outside the county’s grocery stores and solicited the donations, asking shoppers before they went in to consider purchasing canned or non-perishable goods for the Stewpot along with their own groceries.

“We started at 4 p.m., and after 15 minutes I turned (to Chancery Clerk Tommie O’Beirne) and said, ‘I don’t think we are going to end up with much of anything today,’” Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said. “After 30 minutes, we started accruing things like crazy. We started filling up those baskets and Robbie started loading.”

Supervisor Mike Lazarus said in one instance, a shopper donated an entire buggy full of groceries.

“This one guy walked up with the buggy and then left, and we asked, ‘Where are you going?’ and he said, ‘These are yours,’” Lazarus said.

Board Attorney Scott Slover said the success of the drive is a testimony to the Stewpot’s reputation in town.

“All you have to say is ‘Stewpot’ and people know what kind of organization it is,” he said.

Grennell said those who gave did not fit a single profile.

“There is no formula — you don’t know who is going to give or who won’t,” he said.

“It is hard to describe the feeling you get when people come out and put the food — be it one can or a dozen cans — in the basket.”

The volunteers were also able to collect approximately $6,000 in cash donations for the Stewpot.

The board has issued a challenge to the Natchez Board of Aldermen to do the same at a later date.