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The drive to fight hunger

This week, public and private celebrations are being held in honor of KBTX's 60th anniversary. With that, I'm looking back on some of my favorite and memorable moments and people from my 12 years-plus at the Brazos Valley's first television station.

A woman drove up. On the passenger seat of her vehicle was a plastic bag with six cans of food inside. As she handed it through the window, she said she was giving what she could to the Brazos Valley Food Bank. She said the bank had fed her the previous year. She was apologetic at the size of the donation, but she said now, thankfully, she was able to give something back. She was emotional. So was I.

That, in 2004, was the very first donation I personally took at a KBTX Food for Families Food Drive.

I would imagine almost everyone who has worked at KBTX has a special food drive story of their own. The story of the drive itself -- a story added on to each December -- is an awesome example of the good that can be done by organizations and a united community.

For more than two decades, the station and the food bank have organized the one-day, all-day event that serves as the bank's biggest fundraiser of the year. Donations of non-perishable food and money help stock the shelves of the non-profit.

What's the need? According to the food bank's latest statistics, one out of every five people in the Brazos Valley are "food insecure," meaning there are questions too often about how they'll get a meal.

In a one year span from the middle of 2014 to the middle of 2015, nearly 56,000 residents in area counties were fed by the Brazos Valley Food Bank. Nearly half of those were children. Nearly one in five were seniors. Through providing food to pantries to backpack programs for students and seniors to nutrition education programs and more, the organization is working daily to alleviate the pain of hunger.

The planning for each year's Food for Families event is nearly year-round by a small, dedicated group made up of station staff and food bank folks. In promotion in the lead-up, the circle expands. Once the day of the drive and the day before come, it's all hands on deck. If someone isn't on-air, they're setting something up. If they're setting something up, they're likely running what they set up. If someone isn't one of those people, there's volunteering. And it's not just station for food bank personnel volunteering. It's a wide range of community members who come along to help.

A few years back, the number of locations expanded. From just a Bryan location, there are now four spots with four live shots asking for people to come out.

And they do. So many do. Schools and business organize their own drives to donate the final totals to Food for Families. Residents have been marking their calendars for years to make sure they take part in their own ways. It is a truly inspirational day on so many levels, and a true indicator of the giving spirit that puts the Brazos Valley in an upper echelon of places to call home.

The Brazos Valley Food Bank takes donations year round and is always looking for volunteers. Visit their website for more information on a great organization.

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