"The food pantries are so low and Thanksgiving's coming up. I wanted Phoenix Air to give back to the community in some type of way," said Fritz Dent, airport operations manager for Phoenix Air, about why he spearheaded the drive in 2009. "We don't do really any public service out here.
"We have a majority of government contracts and that kind of thing, and so I wanted to do something to give back to the community. I got my idea from the 11Alive [Holiday] Can-a-Thon. So I called Matt Santini and got him on board with me last year to help put it on. So that's how it got started," he said, adding they also contacted Parnick Jennings with the Bartow Business Connection, who was integral in recruiting other businesses.
From Monday to Oct. 27, non-perishable food items will be collected at three Cartersville locations: Phoenix Air, 100 Phoenix Air Drive; The Daily Tribune News, 251 S. Tennessee St.; and WBHF, 7 N. Wall St. After all the supplies are delivered to the Cartersville-Bartow County Airport Oct. 28, the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia will distribute the donations to three Bartow County food banks: New Beginnings Food Outreach, North Bartow Community Services and The Salvation Army.
For Jane Nations, operations manager for The Salvation Army's Cartersville Corps, her nonprofit will receive the food at an ideal time.
"The demand for [our] food is the same as every other food bank -- it's increasing, really monthly," Nations said. "We're seeing continual increases with people who've never had to come in and ask for food [before]. We were lucky enough to get a grant through the Emergency Food and Shelter program for food. It was a $4,000 grant and we were able to use that grant to purchase food.
"That food will probably last us maybe through the first of November. It's certainly not enough to last us for six months or anything like that. So the food drive that Phoenix does for us comes at a great time because it's in between the holiday season. It's kind of before the holiday season starts gearing up and it's usually once our food bank hits a low, right before Thanksgiving. We do have a lot of people coming in during November needing food."
From October 2008 through September 2009, the Cartersville Corps provided aid -- food and financial assistance with utility bills, medications and rent -- to 1,407 households and 3,840 individuals. Compared to the previous year, this was an increase of 360 households and 1,116 individuals.
"We're still seeing a lot of unemployed people, a lot of people whose unemployment has run out," Nations said. "They kept getting the extensions but eventually the extensions run out and these are people that are out looking for work as hard as they can.
"We [also] still have our people that are on fixed incomes [and] our seniors that are struggling with the cost of everything else going up. So we're just seeing a broad base of residents in Bartow County who are needing food right now."
While the Phoenix Air Community Food Drive starts Monday, Dent said he still is seeking businesses to participate by featuring collection boxes at their offices. The campaign will wrap up on Oct. 28, when all the food will be delivered to Cartersville-Bartow County Airport from 7 a.m. to noon. At the offering, which will be broadcast live by WBHF's Joe Tilley Show, the public also will be able to drop off supplies and partake in a complimentary breakfast and view various aircraft on display.
For more information about the food drive, call Dent at 770-386-3040.