The crinkle of plastic bags kept pace with Kirk Franklin’s music blaring over the speakers at the Alachua County Fairgrounds.
Hundreds of people came to pick up food Wednesday as part of the Farmshare Food Giveaway.
Anyone in need could pick up a bag of nonperishable food items and fruit.
“It’s a lot of good stuff,” Gainesville resident Mary Suggs said. “Some things I might not buy for myself personally that they give away.”
Rodney Long started the “Strike Out Hunger” food drive in 2009.
Ten years later, he knows people sometimes don’t have the option to think about buying food. He laid out the idea that food might not even be a top-5 necessity for lots of residents in Alachua County.
“You’ve got rent, utilities, that’s one and two. If you’ve got an automobile, that’s three… You got to have insurance, that’s four,” Long said. “And from there, it goes into clothing, food, whatever.”
In 2018, Strike Out Hunger Week featured giveaways of more than 64,000 pounds of non-perishable food items, more than 22,000 pounds of turkey and ham and more than 26,000 pounds of perishable food items.
Not only were there hundreds of people getting food today, there were dozens of volunteers
“It means a lot because without the volunteers, we couldn’t do this in three hours,” volunteer Carolyn Cleveland said. “We’re feeding between five and seven hundred people… Somebody has to do it.”
The volunteers and donations go a long way for people who are in economic distress.
Edie Hargis was hit head-on by a drunk driver in 1981. She was told she would never walk again due to injuries to her hip. Sporting a cane, she recounted stories of being a single mom and raising her son.
She said food drives like the one Wednesday are what keep her alive.
“We live on a fixed income and it’s not much and it’s very hard,” Hargis said. “So I think the people who have more, they should give more.”
With the holidays right around the corner, the spirit of giving is in full swing.
“It’s so uplifting,” Hargis said, “to see you giving to someone who doesn’t have as much as you have.”