By Pulse Staff
David P. Harr, the director of dining services at University of Findlay, has spent 16 years making sure Findlay area families get the help they need.
“We have people every day who are hungry, who have food insecurity that we need to help out with,” Harr said.
That’s why he takes the lead on the campus Helping Hands food drive every year.
“It started out in 2006 as Cans Across America. It’s something Sodexo put together and they were trying to break the world record for the number of canned goods that’s collected within a 24-hour period,” Harr said. “They did that for two years. We just kept it going because that made a big impact here in town, helping out our neighbors who are struggling.”
Everything collected during the drive goes to CHOPIN Hall which helps distribute food all throughout Hancock County.
There are a number of locations to drop off food during the Nov. 3 event, including both Walmart locations in town, Kroger on Sixth Street, and Brinkman’s on East Sandusky Street. There are two locations on the UF campus: the Center for Student Life and a drive-and-drop location at the AMU.
Several student groups are involved in the drive as well, including the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Ryan Wissell is a sophomore Animal Science major at UF and an officer with the club. She says she enjoys helping with such a great cause.
“It’s really cool,” Wissell said. “Just knowing you’re helping with something so big is cool.”
Wissel says her group is also participating in one of the new events this year; the CAN-struction competition. Student organizations were able to sign up to build canned-food sculptures to represent their organizations. Prizes will be given in three categories: People’s Choice, Most Creative, and Highest Poundage.
Wissel says construction will start Friday, Oct. 29 at 5 p.m. but they’re still deciding on what they will build.
“We’re waiting a little bit to see what other members of our club want to build, but we’re thinking a house,” Wissel said. “It kind of represents our club since we go out and try to build homes for other people.”
Judging will take place on Thursday, Nov. 4 and the winners will get either an ice cream party sponsored by Dietsch Brothers, a bowling party sponsored by AMF Sportsman Lanes, or an Axe Throwing Session sponsored by Axe Ventura in downtown Findlay.
Faculty and staff can get in on the extra fun as well at the “Paint and Partake” event on Friday, Oct. 29. For $10 and 5 pounds of canned food from the top five most needed items, they can participate in creating a painting with Awakening Minds Art painter and UF alumna, Megan Hall. Participants will then be able to take home their own art work.
Harr wants to bring the total number of pounds collected over the last 16 years to the 1-million-pound mark. In the first 15 years of the Helping Hands event, the University of Findlay and Sodexo have collected 883,404 total pounds.
If last year’s 165,735 pounds is any indication, they should reach the 1-million-pound goal this year.
Harr says over the years he’s heard lots of great stories about the generosity of the community, but one of his favorite memories happened several years ago. Members of the Theta Chi fraternity went to Aldi’s and gathered several carts full of food to purchase and donate. While they were in line to pay, someone asked them what kind of party they were having, and the students explained the food was to donate to the food drive.
“When they got to the register, the person at the end of the line ended up paying for their food. Which is really nice,” Harr said. “It goes to show you the heart we have here in Findlay and Hancock County.“
Anyone wishing to make a monetary donation to the Helping Hands food drive can do so online.