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ABOVE: Teams of volunteers pack food for last year’s Kids Against Hunger food drive at the Fairmont Armory. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, February 18.

FAIRMONT – In February, volunteers from across Martin County will host two events to support Kids Against Hunger and the fight against food security. The first will be a variety show put on by Fairmont High School students, and the second will be a large food package.

The food drive will be the larger of the two events and will be held at the Fairmont Armory on Feb. 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This year’s event aims to pack 100,000 meals and raise $30,000 in donations. to help pay for ingredients and transportation.

“I feel very proud of Martin County and how they’ve done in the past. It really is a huge task and they do it every year.” said Karen Sandhurst, one of the longtime volunteers organizing the event.

At least 300 volunteers are expected to help pack food at this year’s event. Volunteers sign up in teams of ten and can come from different communities across the county, such as church groups, school clubs, businesses and families. This is the 14th such food drive to be held in Martin County.

Most of the meals prepared during the food drive are sent to people experiencing food insecurity in other parts of the country or the world. Meals from previous years were sent to Haiti, Honduras and tornado victims in Kentucky. About a tenth of the meals prepared remain local and Sandhurst says demand from the area’s food shelves has increased in recent years.

“This is a growing need; (in 2014) when I started, it wasn’t that high. Now it’s up in 2023, it’s going to be … probably over 10 percent,” said Sandhurst.

This year’s dish is a vitamin-rich dish made with rice, soybeans, beans and a mix of flavors. The cost to make each dish is less than 40 cents, and once assembled, the dish has a shelf life of at least three years.

Although the main beneficiaries of the event are those who will receive the food prepared, participants in the food package said they got more out of the event than they put in.

“We hear a lot of volunteers say it’s a wonderful day and they feel so good inside knowing they’ve helped someone and offered their time and effort to help someone they’ll never know. They’ll never know who that food is going to, but they’ll know they’re helping someone and (at the end of) the day, that’s what makes the world go round.” said Sandhurst.

Sandhurst is still looking for five more teams to sign up for the event. Those interested in helping with the pack can sign up as a team or become a sponsor at kahfairmontmn.weebly.com or contact Sandhurst by email at [email protected] or by phone at 507-848-1260. Those unable to volunteer as a team can still volunteer as alternates if they email ahead of time or are at the event the day of. Donations to the food package are tax deductible.

Outside of the main event, students put on a variety show at Fairmont High School to help raise funds. This year’s event will feature about eight acts and several dozen students. Acts will include skits, group dances and musical performances. Free root beer floats will also be provided. Admission is free to members of the public, but a voluntary donation is encouraged.

“It’s open to everyone and the more people who come and support the better. It’s for a good cause,” said Abby Cihofky, a Fairmont High student who is helping organize the event.

The event will take place at 19:00 on February 1st. This fundraiser has previously raised approximately $1,500 between voluntary donations and t-shirt sales.

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