For more than two decades, volunteers have given their time during the holidays to ensure families and those in need have food throughout the year through the annual Bob Skaggs Memorial Food Drive. The annual fundraiser and food drive held each Thanksgiving week helps fill the food pantry for the Salvation Army of Grayson County for the majority of the year.
For this year’s food drive, volunteers hope to beat last year’s totals with nearly 50 tons of food donated. The drive will be held from Monday through Wednesday this week outside the Sherman Walmart location.
Hosted by local Alpha Media radio stations, the drive bears the name of one of its long-time volunteers, who would often save his vacation time in order to volunteer at the annual fundraiser. The event was officially renamed after Skaggs following his death nearly 15 years ago.
“He felt very passionately about giving back to those in need, and when he passed away they asked about renaming it to the Bob Skaggs Memorial Food Drive,” said Skaggs’s daughter Wendy Vellotti who volunteers each year.
For the food drive, Vellotti said volunteers are seeking non-perishable food donations, including canned goods. Beyond food, volunteers are also collecting household goods, including soap, toiletries and other items that will be used at the Salvation Army’s shelter throughout the year.
While the majority of the donations will come in the form of physical goods, Vellotti said she and other volunteers will take cash donations and shop for items for the pantry. The fundraiser has an ongoing agreement with Walmart where they are able to purchase canned items, diapers and cereal, among other items, by the case at a special rate, which allows volunteers to get the most value from monetary donations.
During last year’s food drive, volunteers were able to fill two semi-trucks with 50 pallets of food donations. Vellotti estimated that each pallet contains about 2,000 lbs. of food and other goods.
For this year’s event, Vellotti said she wants to fill three trucks with donations. With the event growing each year, she said she is hopeful to meet this goal.
“It feels pretty good and I think he would be proud,” she said. “He raised us to help others because that is what you are supposed to do, right?”
Maj. Tex Ellis with the Salvation Army of Grayson County said the food raised last year helped stock the organization’s food pantry for nearly a full year. This equated to nearly 20,000 meals and food gifts for nearly 9,000 families across Texoma. Enough food was donated last year that a small team of volunteers spent December last year sorting through all of the donations for the food pantry.
While the food will help stock the shelter for the majority of the upcoming year, Ellis said some of the food will be used this week during Thanksgiving. Some of the foods that have a shorter shelf life will be used this week as a part of Thanksgiving meals that will be delivered to the elderly through Meals on Wheels.
Ellis said the Salvation Army just got the final turkeys it needed for the meal, but is still in need of deserts, bread and most importantly volunteers to help prepare the food.