BEMIDJI -- Students from across the region are mobilizing to provide food for those in need this holiday season by supporting the Bemidji Community Food Shelf via the annual Stuff-A-Truck campaign.
Now in its 28th year, the Stuff-A-Truck campaign is organized by Marketplace Food and Drug and has provided 560 collection boxes to area schools. The boxes have been in classrooms since late October and will remain there until Wednesday, Nov. 20, when they're picked up and brought to the food shelf.
Of the 560 boxes in classrooms, many of them are located in either Bemijdi High School with 100, and Bemidji Middle School, which has 150, and all the elementary schools. Regardless of how many boxes, though, Food Shelf Executive Director Mary Mitchell said it's always a worthwhile effort because it allows youth to be involved.
"A really great aspect of this fundraiser is it brings attention to food insecurity to kids who may not have an idea what that's like," Mitchell said. "I would think some of the teachers are doing things in their classrooms, too, in that it's not just a matter of bringing food, but knowing that people in our community are hungry."
The donation drive will continue with community participation days from from Nov. 21-23, when residents can bring food to stuff the truck at Marketplace Food and Drug. Located at 2000 Paul Bunyan Drive NW, the truck will be accepting donations from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 21-22, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23.
In years past, donations have averaged between 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of food.
"It's really significant. The kids are over the moon when they bring out those boxes, you can see it's meaningful to them," Mitchell said. "In bringing awareness to the kids at a young age, they'll have that memory. So when they do have an opportunity later on, I think it will make them more compassionate and in a position to volunteer."