Having begun on Nov. 1 and continuing through to Dec. 31, Harvey County Salvation Army is engaged in its annual Harvest of Love – a food and funding drive.
During the two months of the fundraiser, the Salvation Army calls upon local donations, with the goal of raising $30,000 and 30,000 pounds of food for Harvey County residents in need.
The food bank itself, which is run by the Salvation Army and is overseen by the Newton Ministerial Alliance, is part of the largest food network in Kansas.
The food bank receives donations of dry goods, non-perishables and financial gifts from churches, schools, organizations and individuals from all over Harvey County.
Walmart, both Dillons in Newton, The Breadbasket and local farmers contribute to the food bank.
The boxes of food the Salvation Army gives to families weigh from 45 to 60 pounds on average. Lee said they are currently distributing between 75 and 100 boxes to Harvey County families every week.
During the Harvest of Love, the Salvation Army will be displaying charts in its windows that reflect how much money has been raised at any given point of the drive. The charts are usually updated weekly, after every $5,000 or 5,000 pounds of food is raised.
Alvin Musser is chairman of the First United Church of Christ; Musser said that his church has and will continue to gather food and money for the Salvation Army Harvest of Love. The church has done so for many years.
The church gathers food month by month, year round, but Musser said they put an extra drive together before Thanksgiving, taking that food to the Salvation Army for holiday distribution.
"We just want to assist Harvey County and Newton residents in gathering food supplies for those who really need it," Musser said.
Current president elect for the Ministerial Alliance and board representative for the Salvation Army James Wilson said not every community has a program for helping individuals and families with food or to keep their lights on.
"That's a really great thing because not everybody has that. It seems that the need here in Newton is fairly substantial," Wilson said.
Wilson has had conversations with other non-profits in the community and said it seems like needs are on the rise.
"I don't think there is one contributing factor that is the overall reason for that. I think there are just lots of things in play in that," Wilson said.
Instead of churches doing their own food drives, Wilson said local churches can all come together through the Salvation Army's joint fundraiser and food drive. The Salvation Army serves as a main point of contact.
Additionally, Wilson noted the Harvest of Love is a community effort – it not only involves churches, but also businesses and community members.
"We're definitely in uncertain times and I see lots of people who are struggling every day to make ends meet," Wilson said. "If there's an organization like Salvation Army army around that can help them either stretch that dollar a little bit farther or help to support them in that time of need, it's really nice that our community has that available."