Port Orange public employees were able to collect 119.75 pounds of food as part of the seventh-annual countywide Feed the Need food drive.
More than 127,000 pounds of food were collected by public employees in Volusia County between Nov. 13 and 27 to be distributed to nonprofit organizations, such as food pantries and soup kitchens.
Port Orange city employees also collected $344 in cash that went to the Community Christmas Club of the Halifax Area, which benefits Port Orange residents. The city's food donations were given to the Victim Advocate Office.
"The city is always eager to help," Public Information Officer Christine Martindale wrote in an email. "Especially in times such as these."
Throughout the seven years of the drive, started by Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen, public employees have brought in a total of 718,000 pounds of food. During the 2016 drive, 184,000 pounds of food was collected making it the largest collection yet.
The majority of the food collected goes to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Volusia and Flagler counties, though some cities choose to donate to a specific organization, according to Community Information Director Joanne Magley, who also coordinates the drive.
"It's really just a big partnership with all the cities," Magley said. "We couldn't have these great outcomes every year if we didn't have the enthusiasm from everyone that participates."
According to Second Harvest Food Bank Branch Manager Robert Thomas,
the food collected during the drive will feed more than 3,500 families for a week.
Additionally, libraries participated in a similar Food for Fines drive, which allowed anyone with late fees to receive a $1 reduction for overdue fine up to $25 for each boxed or canned nonperishable food item brought to the library. A total of 7,994 pounds of food was collected through this drive.
This year, School Way Café brought in the most food — 22,854 pounds — as well as the most food per full-time employee —162.09 pounds per employee.
In Port Orange, a large portion of the donated food went toward the Santa to the Rescue initiative.
The program was set up 19 years ago by Carmen Miller, victim advocate for the Port Orange Police Department.
On Monday, Dec. 18, at the Port Orange Police Department, families picked up their items, including bikes, stuffed animals and books. Families also received one food box, and two Publix bags of food.
“The mission starts every October, that includes families who live in the Port Orange area, where they would identify what their needs are by completing the program’s application,” Miller said in a press release. "The goal is to meet those needs for every family by the assistance of local organizations.”