Locals can make an IMPACT

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2005

On Saturday, Sept. 24, IMPACT SUFFOLK is sponsoring an Operation Blessing food distribution to the needy of Suffolk and the surrounding area.

The event, which is in its eighth year, will be from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Howard Mast tennis courts behind the Farm Fresh on North Main Street.

There had been some uncertainty about this year’s event, since a large amount of Operation Blessing’s food supply has recently been needed as part of the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

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Because of the late planning, IMPACT SUFFOLK president Dot Dalton stresses more than ever the need for volunteers.

Volunteers are needed starting at 9 a.m. to help bag the food. Volunteers should wear comfortable shoes, hats, and bring a lawn chair.

The day is free and open to the whole family to take part in the carnival-like atmosphere.

There will be clowns, face painting, balloons, music, hot dogs, drinks, popcorn and sno-cones, along with information booths.

&uot;Christian Clowns of Virginia&uot; and &uot;Jesters for Jesus&uot; will be part of the day, with music and children’s entertainment.

Last year, IMPACT SUFFOLK gave over 37,000 pounds of food, over 800 hot dogs were part of the day, and more than 140 volunteers helped bag and distribute the food.

&uot;It’s a big operation,&uot; said Dalton, &uot;they set it up so everyone (the volunteers) can walk between pallets and the food can be bagged as people walk through them.&uot;

&uot;We need youth groups!&uot; Dalton said.

Church youth groups are also asked and needed to help – the more strong, young backs the better.

&uot;We try to make it fun,&uot; said Dalton, &uot;but you find the people are so intent, both those volunteering, and those getting the food, that that’s what takes over.&uot;

As in years past, any food left over will be given to local agencies, churches with food closets, and church youth groups.

If a church would like some of the left over food, they should have a volunteer bring a letter on the church’s letterhead stationary. Last year, all of the food was distributed, and none was left over.

If wishing to volunteer, or for more information, call Brenda McClenny, treasurer of IMPACT SUFFOLK, at 539-7216.