Harker Heights Food Care Center

Harker Heights Food Care Center Director Linda Dawson shows off some of the many canned goods that were collected by local food drives.

An outpouring of community support has loaded the once-empty shelves of the Harker Heights Food Care Center with canned goods of every shape, size and flavor.

A food drive sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce for Make A Difference Day in October collected 9,505 pounds of food and $1,304 for the center.

“Make A Difference Day really did make a difference. We really appreciate it,” Food Care Center Director Linda Dawson said.

The donations are still rolling in, Chamber Membership Director Gina Pence said. In fact, the chamber office is now a permanent drop-off location for food donations.

“Since the food care center isn’t open all the time, we decided to just let people drop their donations off here,” Pence said.

Several Harker Heights middle schools also held food drives last month, including Union Grove and Eastern Hills. Together, the schools raised 7,581 food items.

“They actually brought it to us and wanted to unload it and take pictures and everything,” Dawson said.

On Tuesday, the food care center received word from Skipcha Elementary School that students and staff had also held a drive and the food was ready for pickup.

Chamber President Bill Kozlik said he’d like to see the community continue to pull together to support the food care center not just through donations, but also by lending helping hands.

“We really want to get people in the community involved in volunteering out there.”

While Dawson is grateful for the donations, she’s not breathing easy yet.

The food care center is still short on staples and needs turkeys and other items to fulfill the 120 Thanksgiving-basket requests the center received from families in need.

“I need about 80 more turkeys, stuffing and instant mashed potatoes,” she said. “I have everything else for the baskets — chicken broth, yams, cranberry sauce.”

Other staples needed by the center include dried pasta and pasta mixes like spaghetti and macaroni and cheese, Hamburger Helper, and dried cereals and oatmeal.

Monetary contributions, especially monthly pledges, are also needed to meet the food care center’s operating budget and to purchase food from the Capital Area Food Bank in Austin. The center pays Capital Area a “shared maintenance cost” of 15 cents per pound for fresh vegetables and meats, pasta and canned goods.

“If we could just get more people to pledge to donate something every month, that would help us set a budget,” Dawson said. “As it is, if the food care center doesn’t have the money, it comes from me and my husband’s pockets.”

Donations to the center’s building fund are also welcome.

To make a donation, drop off food items at the Chamber of Commerce, 552 E. 2410, Suite B, Harker Heights.

Mail monetary donations and pledges to the Food Care Center, P.O. Box 2238, Harker Heights, TX, 76548. For information about volunteer opportunities, call Dawson at (254) 768-2061.

Contact Kristi Johnson at kristij@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548

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