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The True Spirit of the Holiday - A USDA Story from Kentucky

Dec 24, 2009

There is no better demonstration of the holiday spirit than when people give their time and resources to help those in need.

USDA employees are a shining example of how a small gesture can go a long way toward helping others. In rural communities across the Commonwealth, many of them worked diligently this holiday season to collect food donations and personal items for agencies that help those less fortunate.

In Grayson County, Kentucky, staff members from Rural Development, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency partnered with the local conservation district to collect 2,800 pounds of non-perishable food items for Community Food Pantry as part of the annual “Harvest of the Heart” food drive.

Photo of Grayson County - Harvest of the Heart
Photo of Grayson County - Harvest of the Heart

Donna Wilson, director of the Community Food Pantry, was overwhelmed at the outpouring of support and food.

He told me that the USDA drive is one of the food drives that they look forward to and depend on every year. He said “Our county is such a poor county, and our numbers have increased dramatically this year. We are feeding 1,000 families a month – more than 2,000 individuals. This drive was huge. They collected 2,800 pounds of food. Without their assistance, I don’t know where this food panty would be.”

Harvest of the Heart drive also worked with more than 20 churches across Grayson County, as well as CoreMark International, which supplied the collections bins used in the food drive.

All of the donated food collected by the USDA Service Center employees was given to Community Food Pantry. The food drive is held each year to help replenish the shelves at the food pantry, which needs donations year round to meet the growing demands of those needing assistance.

Rural Development employees in the Morehead, Kentucky, Area Office, also collected food as well as personal items to help those less fortunate this holiday season.

It has become an annual tradition for the small staff to collect food and other items for non-profit agencies that assist victims of domestic violence or those who are homeless.

This year, the staff collected food and personal items such as shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste for the Gateway Homeless Shelter in Morehead.

Morehead Area Office photo
Morehead Area Office photo

Area Assistant Brian Glover said each year during the holidays the staff chooses to collect money, personal items and food for people in need rather than exchange gifts among themselves.Those of us who work for Rural Development recognize how fortunate we are to work for an agency that has such a positive impact on rural communities. Each day, we see first-hand the ways in which our programs and services improve the quality of life for those who need them the most.

It’s heartwarming to see so many RD employees continue this support through community service -- long after the workday ends.

Submitted by Katherine Belcher, Public Information Coordinator, Kentucky

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition