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Food Share drive seeks donations to help hungry

Some might find it hard to believe they have friends and neighbors among them who are hungry.

However, food insecurity is as much a reality in Franklin County as anywhere – and it’s a problem a local food drive aims to help combat.

Bank Independent kicked off its seventh annual Food Share drive to benefit local food banks March 1, and donations are needed to help “Feed a Family for $5” – the theme of this year’s campaign. 

“Food insecurity in our community has always been the driving need behind our Food Share initiative,” said Macke Mauldin, president and CEO of BancIndependent. “The past year has highlighted how quickly that disparity can affect local families. The charities we support provide vital assistance for families undergoing hardships. We hope our Food Share efforts make a positive impact.” 

In Franklin County, donations are passed along to the Franklin County Department of Human Resources, through which they are distributed to families in need.

“A lot of the families we serve have issues of abuse or neglect where there are children staying maybe with grandparents or other relatives who need a little extra assistance,” explained Betsy Puckett, social worker at DHR in charge of quality assurance and resource development. “We want to make sure all families have their basic needs met, and that includes food items.”

Puckett explained that while Franklin families in need can apply for food stamps or other assistance programs, sometimes there is an urgent need or a family’s income might just barely exceed the limit to qualify for other food assistance programs.

That’s where the Food Share donations come in handy – filling the very need Bank Independent hopes to address.

“We have had important conversations with our local food bank partners to determine how we can best help this year,” said Nikki Randolph, community engagement officer at Bank Independent.  “We learned that in the right hands, a simple donation of $5 can feed a family for a day. We built the 2021 Food Share drive around that theme and created three convenient ways for our team members and customers to donate: at any of our 28 Bank Independent locations, through PayPal, and through partner businesses, all listed at bibank.com/help.

All locations of the bank will serve as donation points through March 26 for non-perishable food items and cash donations, along with strategic partner businesses and PayPal found on bibank.com/help. Strategic donation locations in Franklin County include Dollar General on Fourth Avenue in Red Bay and Woodland in Highway 43 in Russellville.

After the donation period, Bank Independent works with local partner organizations across its seven-county footprint – in Franklin County, the DHR – to ensure donations are distributed to area families in need.

“We really do work in a very tight-knit community, and we appreciate that,” said Puckett. “Anything people in the community feel led to give is very much appreciated and stays within the community.”

In addition to the food items or monetary donations from community members, the Bank will donate 10 cents for every Bank Independent debit card transaction made at a grocery store, up to $10,000, between March 1-15.  The total will be distributed across the local partner organizations.

 Food Share is part of Bank Independent’s Helping Hands program, which also includes employee volunteer efforts, donations and sponsorships. Other Share drives include Shelter Share to benefit animal shelters, Toy Share to collect toys for the holidays, and School Share drive to collect school supplies.

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