MARYSVILLE — From Smokey Point to Tulalip and east Marysville, volunteers stood sentinel in the doorways of more than half a dozen grocery stores with shopping carts, cardboard boxes and big red barrels to collect for the Marysville All-City Food Drive on Saturday, Nov. 2.
More than 100 volunteers from the Kiwanis and Lions clubs, Soroptimist International, the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, the city and fire district of Marysville, HomeStreet Bank, and the high schools of Lakewood, Marysville Getchell and Marysville-Pilchuck joined local businesses and community service groups in collecting donations at the Marysville Fred Meyer, Grocery Outlet, Haggen and Albertsons, as well as the Walmart stores in Quil Ceda Village and east Marysville, and the Safeway stores in Marysville and Smokey Point.
City of Marysville Parks and Recreation Manager Tara Mizell, who's organized the Marysville All-City Food Drive for at least a decade, reported that this year's drive collected 6,589 pounds of food and $1,371.75 in cash and gift cards.
"That's a new record high, and during the last few hours of the drive, we had a terrible storm," said Mizell, who added that the number of volunteers this year was at least equal to that of last year's drive. "Our city employees are vested in our community, and want to help those in need in need of assistance. We had elected officials and part-time staff all giving of their time on Saturday. It's a fun and rewarding day to see the generous folks who live and work in our town."
City of Marysville Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ballew lauded not only Mizell, but also her family for their efforts on behalf of the less fortunate throughout the holidays.
"They have taken the high road of taking care of others," Ballew said of Mizell, her husband and their two daughters. "Tara has unselfishly devoted a great deal of her time and energy, outside of her work hours, to coordinating nonprofits, community groups, businesses and high school students, all of whom are doing it for the right reasons."
Mizell noted that the big red barrels remain at all the aforementioned grocery stores through the winter holidays, to continue to collect food and unwrapped toys for local folks in need.
Marysville Community Food Bank Director Dell Deierling echoed Mizell's praise for all the volunteers, and emphasized the degree of need that the Food Bank is currently facing.
"This drive means a tremendous amount to us," Deierling said. "I'm really nervous about the impact on the Food Bank of the food stamp roll-back to 2009 levels that just happened. I think it's going to put a lot of pressure on us, as folks try to make up for that loss. We're already dealing with the time of year where the need spikes, and now we have this drop in benefits on top of that seasonal need."
According to Deierling, the Marysville Community Food Bank typically serves between 40-50 percent more families in November than in October.
"This seasonal increase, coupled with the reduction in food stamp funds to families, will challenge us, but with the community's help, we stand ready to take the challenge head on," said Deierling, who credited a number of local schools with supporting the Food Bank with food drives of their own. "I can't thank the young people enough for the tremendous role they play in feeding our families in need."
The Marysville Community Food Bank will provide families with special foods to help them put together Thanksgiving meals, but one of the Food Bank's challenges this year will be providing each of the projected 720 families with a centerpiece meat, since turkeys — especially smaller-sized ones — are in short supply on its shelves, along with hams and turkey breasts.
"Look for specials at local grocery stores that provide free or reduced-cost turkeys, when spending targeted amounts of money, and please consider donating such turkeys to the Food Bank," said Deierling, who also requested donations of canned soup, vegetables and fruits, fruit cocktail in particular. "Monetary donations will also be accepted gratefully, and will be used to purchase needed items in bulk."
Donations can also be dropped off at the Marysville Community Food Bank, located at 4150 88th St. NE, behind St. Mary's Catholic Church.
Those interested in volunteering can contact the Marysville Community Food Bank at 360-658-1054, or at 360-659-4659 to help support its Toy Store, which will be open in mid-December. For more information, log onto http://marysvillefoodbank.org.