Celebrating 30 years of Can Care-a-Van

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Our mission to stock food pantries around the state has wrapped up for the 30th year with a grand total of 240,839 lbs of donations!

During the week of June 5th – 10th, 10/11 and NBC Nebraska news personalities helped collect donations for pantries in the communities of Lincoln, Superior, Sutton, Columbus, Aurora, Ord, Grand Island, Hastings, Hebron, Geneva, York, North Platte, and Beatrice. Additional collections were held in Nebraska City, Neligh, Osceola, Kearney, Lexington, and Atkinson.

Outstanding community volunteers were recognized at some of the towns along the Can Care-a-Van route with the Joanne Komenda Memorial Spirit Award. The awards are given to individuals and groups who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to support their local food pantry. The award is given in memory of Can Care-a-Van co-founder, Joanne Komenda.

Saturday, June 10: Beatrice 21,499 lbs
Beatrice shattered its goal this year thanks to some big donations that came in early. All donations from the drive there are split between Community Pantry at St. John's, Blue Valley Community Action, and The Salvation Army Food Pantry.

Organizers in Beatrice recognized Darlene Penner with the Joanne Komenda Memorial Spirit Award, even though she wasn't able to be there that day. Darlene volunteers every month handing out food to clients during the mobile food pantry. She has been doing this for several years. Darlene also volunteers every year taking applications for the Salvation Army Christmas food baskets.

Friday, June 9: North Platte 6,658 lbs
North Platte and the surrounding community was proud to contribute to the 30th Can Care-a-Van food drive on Friday.

The drive was held at Gary's Super Foods from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The donated food goes to Grace Ministries and the St. Pat's Food Pantry.

The Boy Scouts carried groceries to delivery vans and weighed the food. One woman who donated food said they were excited to support a worthy cause. "I see a lot of people who struggle for food," Tina Horkey says, "at one time I had trouble and (people have) helped me out, so I'm ready to pass (it) on."

Friday, June 9: York 11,132 lbs
In January 2014, Blue Valley Community Action Partnership lost their food pantry in a devastating fire. Since then, the York community and surrounding area have come together to help BVAC rebuild.

Just more than three years after the fire, Blue Valley Community Action moved into their new building this spring. After three years of hosting Can Care-a-van at the York Walmart, this year's event was back at the BVAC.

This year's Joanne Komenda Memorial Spirit Award winner in York is Gerry Radcliff. Gerry has volunteered with food pantry for more than 15 years.

Friday, June 9: Geneva 8,322 lbs
Geneva and the surrounding community was proud to contribute to the 30th Can Care-a-Van food drive on Friday.

The drive was held at the Blue Valley Community Action Partnership from 9:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The donated food will benefit the Blue Valley Community Action Partnership.

Friday, June 9: Atkinson 2,097 lbs

Thursday, June 8: Lexington 3,576 lbs

Thursday, June 8: Kearney 8,103 lbs
Just minutes after the starting time of 10 a.m., a crew from Black Hills Energy pulled up in two vans loaded with canned goods, and it was just the start of a busy day in Kearney.

It's the 6th year the Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska has teamed up with NBC Nebraska for the Can Care-A-Van, and they hope it's the 6th of many more years.

"It's always a good feeling to come here and have a Can Care-A-Van and try to collect food to help the hungry," organizer Rae Lynn Johnson said. "You always have to remember it's not just the children, it is also the elderly. We have elderly in our community that are hungry also."

Thursday, June 8: Hebron 13,298 lbs
It had the look of a street festival for the Can Care-a-Van stop in Hebron, our first visit there in six years. The closed off street was hopping all day. Blue Valley Community Action Partnership had plenty of community support to replenish their food pantry, which was running low.

Businesses across town got involved with fund raisers and food drives and the Girl Scouts stepped up with the heavy lifting all day.
It ended up a great day. They zoomed past their 4000 pound goal to add 13,298 pounds of goods to help those in need.

Wednesday, June 7: Grand Island: 14,733 lbs

This year during the 30th Can Care-A-Van people in Grand Island again stepped up and showed what neighbor helping neighbor truly means. The total amount this year of 14,733 pounds will help four different food pantries in Grand Island: The Salvation Army, Hope Harbor, St. Mary's Cathedral, and Blessed Sacrament. All four of those organizations want to thank the community for their generosity.

Wednesday, June 7: Hastings: 1,365
Hastings is one of the newer stops on the annual tradition that is Can Care-a-Van, with momentum growing every year. Food pantries located at the Hastings Salvation Army, Catholic Social Services and the Adams County Food Bank will be getting much needed replenishment from the day's effort. It was an army of individuals helping in Hastings, with a total of 1365 pounds donated. The largest single donation was sixty pounds, so it's a true testament to a large number of donors making a big difference.

Wednesday, June 7: Osceola: 1197

Tuesday, June 6: Aurora: 39,538 lbs
Spirit Award Winners: Barb Johnson and Kathy Akerlund
Nominated by: Hamilton County Food Pantry Board of Directors

The total amount of 39,538 pounds shattered last year's record of 28,000 pounds of food. The residents of Hamilton County continue to be so generous.

"Barb Johnson is one of the Spirit Award winners in Aurora this year. She served many years as the director of the Hamilton County Food Pantry. Kathy Akerlund is the other deserving recipient of the Can Care-A-Van Spirit Award this year, and has served for many years as the treasurer of the Hamilton County Food Pantry. Many thanks to both women for their service."

Tuesday, June 6: Ord: 17,500 lbs
Spirit Award Winners: Larry Masin & Ken Cullers
Nominated by: Ord Methodist Church Missions Committee

"Larry and Ken have gone above and beyond in their support of the food pantry. They have travelled 150 miles round-trip to Kearney’s Food Bank at least twice a month to bring back groceries to help stock the s helves. Thank you for the many trips you’ve made to ensure the residents of this community have food for themselves and their families."

Tuesday, June 6: Columbus: 60,375 lbs
Spirit Award Winner: Bob Benson
Nominated by: Jackson Moore, Platte County Food Pantry Executive Director

Bob has spent many years at the Platte County Food Pantry where he is the expert on groceries. Bob is always pleasant, heard working, and willing to do what is needed, usually before being asked. Thank you for your service, Bob!

Tuesday, June 6: Nebraska City: 8,606 lbs

Tuesday, June 6: Neligh: 1,396 lbs

Monday, June 5: Superior: 10,448 lbs
Spirit Award Winner: Warren Smith
Nominated by: Nuckolls County Food Pantry Board

"Warren gave four days of his time helping to tear down and reassemble food pantry shelves. He provided transportation in the moving of shelves and personal power tools and shop supplies to rebuild and reassemble shelves at the food pantry's new location."

Spirit Award Winner: Superior High School Community Service Group
Nominated by: Nuckolls County Food Pantry

"This group of students volunteered after school to move the food pantry's office supplies to their new location. Thank you for your efforts to support the Nuckolls County Food Pantry!"

Monday, June 5: Sutton: 7401 lbs
Spirit Award Winners: Sutton Public School Employees Kim McElfresh, Deb Osterhause and Ashley Ulmer
Nominated by: The Bread Box Staff

These ladies are the heartbeat of the NOW program, which stands for Nutrition on Weekends. The NOW program provides bags of food for children to take home on the weekends. Kim, Deb, and Ashley make sure these bags are delivered to the students at school in a quiet and dignified manner. They keep the names of the families receiving the bags confidential. They have shown a willingness to go above and beyond their assigned duties so kids do not go hungry.

Friday, June 2nd Lincoln: 3310 lbs