LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – The Food Bank and United Methodist Church joined forces to gather food and supplies for those in need. They’ve held what’s called Ingathering for 41 years now.
“Our first-year Ingathering was 2010,” Blake Bradford said.
He and his daughter Bailey have volunteered at the event for nine years.
“I was in second grade, I was 8 years old,” Bailey said.
Arkansas United Methodist Church members meet at the Arkansas Foodbank warehouse. In one day they’re able to bag about 37,000 pounds of beans and 40,000 pounds of sweet potatoes.
“That year we gathered sweet potatoes and here we are with a bunch of sweet potatoes once again,” Blake said.
What brings them back every year is their mission to end hunger.
“It just makes you feel like, so great to know that you’re not only like helping people in your community, but all over the state,” Bailey said.
The sweet potatoes are bagged, weighed and then they are ready to go out for distribution.
“Everyone who comes leaves with a smile on their face and joy in their heart because they know they’ve done something that will impact someone’s life,” Bishop of United Methodist Church Gary Mueller Arkansas said.
Within the next month, the food will go to homes all around the state.
“Those who are hungry want to eat healthy food and we can provide that healthy food. And we can do it in a day and it can be ready for the Thanksgiving holidays,” project coordinator Mary Lewis Dassinger said.
Volunteers said there are about 200,000 children who go to bed hungry in Arkansas. They hope their efforts will continue to bring that number down.
“The last figure we have is that number has been reduced to 163, 700. That’s great news, it also means we have a long way to go,” Mueller said.
This year the volunteers also collected disaster relief kits. They’ll be distributed through the United Methodist Committee on Relief after natural disasters and in needy areas.