Posted at: 12/09/2013 12:41 PM
Updated at: 12/10/2013 10:02 AM
For the past decade WDIO/WIRT's Good Morning Northland crew and Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank have braved the cold to help those in need.
Every December they team up for the "Have a Heart, Help a Neighbor" food drive raising money to help combat hunger in our region.
Executive Director for Second Harvest, Shaye Moris, says the food drive makes a big impact each year, but it's the viewers who help make it a success.
"I think it's people in our region who want to support their neighbors. They want to give every year. It just surprises us how much people open their hearts or wallets and want to help people in their own community," Moris said.
Second Harvest is the only food bank in the region and relies entirely on true charitable donations. In fact, they collect donated food and make it available to about 120 non-profits throughout the region. That outreach helps about 44,000 people throughout northwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Minnesota, according to Moris.
"Our role really is to collect and gather donated food and make it available to local non profits such as food shelves, soup kitchens and shelters in our region," Moris said.
Because all food is donated, the costs for their services lands on transportation and food handling costs. That's why monetary donations make the biggest difference.
"People can never believe that for one dollar donated to Second Harvest we can rescue and distribute about ten dollars worth of food, enough food for five meals," Moris said.
WDIO has interviewed countless families and individuals through the years who know just how important their services are. The event has grown, so has the need.
Food shelf need has jumped by 60 - 70 percent in recent years, which is a good indicator of need for the food bank, Moris said. More and more working families, seniors and many more individuals are seeking the help of food services to make ends meet.
"It can be that person next to you in a cubicle, it can be a child your kids go to school with," Moris said. "Many people have a picture of what somebody who's hungry looks like or acts like. It's really amazing for some people to learn that it's people just like you or I who need assistance."
News personalities and venues may have changed over the past decade, but the purpose of the "Have a Heart Help a Neighbor" campaign has stayed the same. It's an effort to fight hunger and make a difference for so many in our community.
Join Brittany Falkers and Ben Dery, Friday, December 13 at First United Methodist Church in Duluth for the 10th Annual Have a Heart, Help a Neighbor. Stop by to watch the live broadcast and to donate from 5 - 9 a.m.
You can also donate online HERE.