Rotarians drown hunger in flood of food

JONESBORO — The image of a horn of plenty overflowing with food is a traditional image carted out around Thanksgiving, but a truck of plenty? That’s a new one.

However, that’s what Rotary of Club of Clayton County leaders said they had on their hands last week when they donated the collections gathered through their Rotary Has Heart effort to First Baptist Church of Jonesboro’s pastor, Mel Blackaby, and its mission director, Lanny Loe. The food was being given to the church’s food pantry.

They weren’t short on food to donate, officials from the group said. The issue was they had too much food. It caused a logistical conundrum as officials tried to find a way to transport all of the food from their meeting at Red Lobster to the church, said President Karen Sullivan and President-elect Pam Ferguson.

“There were so many donations we actually had a challenge in transporting the food items from our meeting site to the food pantry,” said Ferguson in a statement. “That, of course, is a wonderful problem to have when it comes to a food drive.”

Rotary Has Heart is a new effort to feed children in eight coastal states — from Delaware to Florida — as well as Washington D.C. and 24 Caribbean nations, according to the program’s Facebook page. It was started by the sitting Rotary International vice-president, Anne Matthews.

When Clayton County Rotary officials realized they had more food than they could easily transport, Sergeant-At-Arms Ron Corbin said they had to get creative in finding a way to transport all of the donated items.

“We had four volunteers carrying boxes of donations out to the food pantry vehicle and then another three people trying to find space in the truck to get all the donations transported in one trip,” Corbin said. “That scenario is the definition of success.”

But local Rotarians said that while the goal of Rotary Has Heart is to collect food this month for children, they intend to keep it going and they have invited the community to help with their efforts. Any Clayton county resident who wishes to make a donation to the food pantry, through the Rotary Club, is asked to call 678-490-6966 to schedule a collection time.

“From the standpoint of one event, we are very pleased with Rotary Has Heart,” said Ferguson. “Unfortunately this is a challenge our area faces on a consistent basis. The (Rotary Club of Clayton County) is hoping to continue to bring attention to the need for food donations.

“If we can expand the spotlight on the desperate need, Rotary Has Heart will continue all year long,” she added.