Final numbers were at 63,833 cans collected at State Mutual Stadium, and Capt. Douglas McClure said volunteers began the food drive at 6 a.m.
The organization conducts the drive in partnership with 11Alive News to feed local, impoverished families. McClure said the food drive fed nearly 900 local families last year in Floyd, Polk and Chattooga Counties.
“This is our largest food drive of the year,” McClure said. “This supplies 80 or 90 percent of all canned food donated throughout the area.”
But most of the cans were donated from local schools. All Rome City Schools participated, as did Coosa Middle School, the Floyd County Education Center, McHenry Primary, Model Elementary, Pepperell Primary, Pepperell Middle, Pepperell High, Model Elementary and McHenry Primary.
“A bunch of schools have come by and helped us sort (the cans),” McClure said. “We’ve got a lot of good schools here. We sort the food by barrel, according to what kind of food it is, then we can make the food orders a little easier.”
McClure said that the amount of cans donated is evidence that even despite hard economic times, people still care for others in their community.
“It just shows that people are still willing to take care of other people,” he said. “It shows that people are going to make other people a priority. If you could sum up all the work at the Salvation Army, including our volunteering, the word we use is others. It’s always about other people, it’s always about what we can do to make other people have a better life.”
The middle school student council at Unity Christian School delivered about 1,500 cans, and middle school teacher Kim Moates said the entire school has been collecting cans for three weeks.
“Our goal was 1,000, so we exceeded our goal, which was awesome. We’re really excited about it,” she said. “This is actually the first year we’ve done Can-A-Thon and the first year we’ve had a middle school student council. We’re very excited about what’s going on.”
Hannah Payne, an eighth-grader and president of the UCS middle school student council, said some of the students left messages of encouragement and Bible verses on some of the cans.
“We’re serving the community and representing Unity, donating cans for the homeless,” she said. “Some of the kids wrote notes to the people who are going to get them, encouraging them and telling them ‘God is with you. Don’t worry, be courageous and someone is going to help you. We’re here to help.’”
Payne said she and her fellow students were glad they could assist in the efforts to help feed hungry members of the community, but even more so, that so many people in the area donated.
“I feel this is something great,” she said. “It’s really good for communities to come together, and I think it’s really great for all the schools to come together whether they’re from this part of Rome or that part of Rome, they can all come together and unite and do something that’s really awesome.”