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Food drive kicks off United Way campaign

More than 175 Suffolk residents won’t be showing up at work next Friday.

Instead, these people will spend the day volunteering at one of a dozen different sites in Suffolk as part of the United Way of South Hampton Roads’ 17th annual Day of Caring. The event, which kicks off the organization’s annual fundraising campaign, will include more than 1,700 volunteers across Hampton Roads.

The groups work in local non-profits, community parks, schools and beaches to help assist those United Way agencies who help people in need throughout the year. Projects will include landscaping, painting, construction of wheelchair ramps, as well as taking mentally disabled children fishing for the day.

Residents who aren’t able to take a day off work to volunteer can still help by donating canned food items, said United Way spokeswoman Heidi Baylor, who is coordinating the Day of Caring events.

“It is not too late to help make a difference,” she said. “Canned food items are in short supply at local food pantries and the United Way is asking the community for help.”

Lipton employees are partnering with the Suffolk Salvation Army to stock their pantry. Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8 and Friday, Sept. 12, individuals, businesses and organizations can drop off canned food items at both the Salvation Army and Suffolk News-Herald.

Next Friday, Lipton employees will accept food donations at the Salvation Army only and begin sorting them into food boxes to give to families in need, Baylor said.

According to Tywana German, director for the local United Way, September is Hunger Action Month, organized through Feeding America. Although the United States is the wealthiest nation in the world, millions of children in our nation are food insecure, meaning they are either currently hungry or nearing hunger, she said.

“Americans who are undernourished are at greater risk for serious health, social, and educational problems. Today, many public food-assistance programs and private organizations strive to meet the nutritional needs of the community, but food donations are seriously low,” said German. “The citizens of Suffolk continually support their community in time of need.

“Let’s all take a stand against hunger and support the food drive from Sept. 8-12.”

For more information on how you can be a part of the annual United Way campaign, contact German at 539-1498.