WILKES-BARRE — United Way has kicked off its Christmas in July Food Drive competition to bring in goods to support those in need.
Companies and organizations throughout the Wyoming Valley are accepting donations for the campaign throughout the month. An official weigh-in will be on July 31 at the Weinberg Food Bank to determine how much was donated.
John Winslow, director of communications and special events, said awards will be presented to the top-three organizations that collect the most pounds of food. Additional awards will be presented based on the number of pounds collected per employee.
This year marks the 26th year for the event. Since the beginning, Winslow said, a little over 1.2 million pounds of food has been donated. A total of 77,451 pounds was donated last year alone. Monetary donations also count toward the weight of food donated. Winslow said that $1 donated equates to 2 pounds of food.
Winslow said 31 companies have signed up to participate in the Food Drive Competition so far. The goal for the campaign hasn’t changed.
“We always shoot for 100,000 pounds,” Winslow said. “It’d be kind of neat if we hit that mark.”
Winslow said the drive was initially thought of due to food banks struggling during the summer months. He said many children who qualify for free or reduced meals at school lose that benefit when classes let out.
That problem is especially relevant in Luzerne County. Winslow said that one in three children in the county live in poverty.
He said the drive was a way to not only combat the problem and provide, but also it gives the community a chance to give back.
“The event provides community members with an opportunity to be a part of our ‘Poverty to Possibility’ movement,” Winslow said. “Together, we can break the cycle of childhood poverty — giving kids and their families the chance all of us deserve.”