The Town of Smyrna collected 82,384 non-perishable items in the annual Christmas Parade Food Drive to benefit Nourish Food Bank.
Mayor Mary Esther Reed and volunteer parade organizer, Jill Strange, knew that the need for donations to the Nourish Food Bank (formerly Smyrna-La Vergne Food Bank) increased during the Holiday Season.
While planning the 2015 parade, they decided to add a community food drive to the event. The entry fee to the parade became donations of non-perishable items. Spectators were encouraged to bring donations and Town employees collected along the parade route. The effort collected 1,800 items that year!
"We knew we could grow this effort. Providing spectators the opportunity to help their neighbors resonated with our community," shared Reed. "This connectedness is what makes Smyrna so special."
Despite the success of the past 4 years, Mayor Reed and Town Manager Brian Hercules issued a challenge to Town Council members to increase donations during the 2019 drive. The Council, town personnel, and the Smyrna community rose to the challenge. The final total of 82,384 shatters last year’s record collection of 22,872.
In addition to the Christmas Parade Food Drive, Smyrna Fire Department collected 40,549 items for Nourish Foodbank during their 18th annual "Firefighters for Food" food drive. This total exceeds last year’s total by more than 6,000 items.
Chief Bill Culbertson envisioned an opportunity to rally Smyrna Fire Department personnel around a local cause during the Holiday Season. The department knew Nourish Food Bank was struggling to meet the increased need for food donations during the Thanksgiving Holiday in 2002. Lt. Burt Wilson volunteered to champion the effort, and has continued to do so every year.
"We appreciate the trust our citizens place in us to serve and protect them every day," explained SFD Chief Bill Culbertson. "SFD personnel believe that part of that commitment to serve includes doing our part to make sure all of our citizens have enough to eat."
The efforts of both food drives netted 122,933 items for Nourish Food Bank this year.
"Our entire community is the beneficiary of both food drives," Hercules said. "No family should experience hunger or food insecurity. On behalf of the Town of Smyrna, I would like to extend a heart-felt thank you to everyone who donated this year."
Top photo: Smyrna Town Manager Brian D. Hercules and Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed