NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — An annual food drive held to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. doubled its annual donations from the community this year.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Food Drive has been hosted by Newport News Mayor McKinley Price for the past five years.
On Monday, the community turned out in full force to support the event.
Price says he was inspired by King’s life of service to do a food drive.
“I was going to a lot of breakfasts and lunches. I’ve spoken a lot on this day. I have actually spoken a lot on this day,” he said. “Then, I looked at what his life actually stood for so we made this day a more beneficial way of honoring his desire.”
Price, who unloaded food donations from cars, was helped by Newport News Sheriff Gabe Morgan, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew, and was also supported by U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott and Virginia Del. Marcia Price.
Price says the event was the busiest they’ve had so far and it was gratifying seeing so many people contribute, especially with more people needing help due to COVID-19.
“This means we’re honoring what his desire was. The most important thing is, what are you doing for people? We’re showing people we care. We’re giving people hope and letting them know things are going to get and because of COVID, it’s needed more than ever,” he said.
The donations, which went to the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, will help with the 18% decrease in donations the organization saw last year.
Karen Joyner, who is the food bank CEO, says the number of people on the Peninsula with food insecurity rose from 11% to 14%, with that number being much higher for children in food-insecure homes.
From April to September of 2020, 50% of those who came to the organization for help were first-time clients, according to the food bank.
Joyner says seeing so many people helping on Monday was an awesome feeling.
“I think it just means the community knows there’s a great need and they want to honor Dr. King’s legacy by being of service to their fellow mankind,” she said. “It has been heartwarming to see how many people have come out to this little food drive it used to be this year. It has really been outstanding and we’re thrilled with the results today.”
The food bank collected $13,000 in monetary donations and 10,000 pounds of food, which equates to 60,000 meals, according to Joyner.
Those who donated, like Dr. Trina Coleman, the president of the Rotary Club of Hampton, hopes that people will continue to donate.
“It’s critical we help out, not just on our day of service, but every day. But, today is a special day,” she said.
Coleman says she is the first Black female president of the club, which has served the community for 100 years. She says giving back helps to exemplify King’s life and is needed now.
“He gave his life for service and so many people need help. In this transition our country is going through, if there are people like Rotary and others [who] can bridge that gap until we get our country back level and steady the ship so to speak, we need to come out and do what we need to do,” she said.
The food bank is always looking for donations, whether it’s financial donations, food, or volunteers. To learn more, click here.