Project Feed a Neighbor

Ninth annual effort seeks volunteers

Young Project Feed a Neighbor volunteers prepare to deliver specially labeled bags to residences in 2015 in Ishpeming, Negaunee, and Republic. During the ninth annual food drive this year, residents in western Marquette County are asked to fill the bags with non-perishable food items that will be used to replenish the St. Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army food pantries. (Photo courtesy of Dick Derby)

ISHPEMING — Spring is in the air, and the time has come — if you live in the west end of Marquette County, chances are good that a grocery bag with a pink label announcing the ninth annual Project Feed a Neighbor will appear on your doorstep soon.

The label will instruct the receiver to fill the bags with nonperishable food and personal hygiene items and place it on the curb to be collected starting at 10 a.m. April 28. The proceeds of the food drive will be distributed to the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul in Ishpeming, the St. Vincent de Paul in Negaunee and the St. Vincent de Paul in Republic.

The Wesley United Methodist Church and the Mitchell United Methodist Church in Negaunee, and the Pioneer Kiwanis in Republic have again teamed up for the effort. Project organizer Dick Derby said volunteers are needed to complete the effort, with tasks such as: affixing labels to thousands of grocery bags from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday; delivering the labeled bags door to door in Ishpeming, Negaunee, Republic and the surrounding areas on April 21; and collecting the filled bags from curbs in those communities on April 28.

“The food drive relies on several hundred people behind the scenes helping to organize, put the collection bags together, deliver the bags door to door through the neighborhoods, and collect the donations,” Derby said. “There is never enough thanks for all the adults and students that give their time to make Project Feed a Neighbor a success.”

About 9,000 pounds food was collected last year, Derby said in an email interview, and he is hoping to exceed that number this year.

“The goal is to always improve as there are always needy families in our community that have had some hardships or setbacks,” Derby said. “It is difficult to imagine being in a position where having enough to eat each day is a challenge.”

The project, created by Ishpeming’s Wesley United Methodist, has grown over the years into a collaborative effort by churches, students, and service and volunteer organizations at the west end of Marquette County.

Derby said the efforts like Feed a Neighbor accomplish more than just restocking food pantries across western Marquette County.

“There is a real desire to provide varied and nutritional food options at the same time. That is why Project Feed a Neighbor reaches out to everyone in the Ishpeming and Negaunee area asking for support,” Derby said. “We say it over and over with great pride, that we live in area where people are always willing to help someone else. This is one of those opportunities where a simple gesture of filling the food collection bags has such a huge positive effect for so many families. It is a chance for everyone to be a volunteer and serve.”

Anyone with questions or wishing to volunteer should contact Wesley United Methodist Church in Ishpeming at 906-486-4681, or Mitchell United Methodist Church in Negaunee at 906-475-4861.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.