VOLIN — A project to benefit area families is getting kicked off this month.
Food will be collected for the project — a food pantry — throughout November. It is one of the projects related to the Volin-Gayville Horizons Grant.
"This project is part of a larger Nutrition Committee set of projects, but this particular project involves creating a food pantry that will probably be based in Volin, and then will be mobile to Gayville," said Barbara Egbert, a member of the Nutrition Committee that's organizing the pantry.
The Horizons project focuses on community leadership to reduce poverty and is funded with grants from the Northwest Area Foundation. The Volin-Gayville Horizons Grant is in the amount of $10,000.
Egbert said the idea for a food pantry arose because of a survey that was taken to identify community needs.
"One of the items that really stuck out was the number of people who said they would use or could use a food pantry," she said. "It kind of surprised us."
Of the 100 surveys that were distributed, 20 people indicated they would benefit from a food pantry, Egbert said.
"We thought it was a fairly significant number," she said. "We had not envisioned that a food pantry would be a need, but with the downturn in the economy, I think there has been more of a need."
The food pantry will be housed in the Volin town hall.
"We're going to get it set up, and once we get a little better idea of our resources, we'll be able to move forward with letting the general public know when we'll have the food available to people who need it," Egbert said.
Food will be collected in Volin and Gayville throughout the month of November, with donation bins located in community stores, churches and post offices.
"We're just now getting the posters up and the containers in the stores," Egbert said.
Food and cash donations will also be taken at CorTrust Bank.
The first donations being sought are canned and non-perishable items, Egbert said.
"We're asking for primarily canned goods, with a valid expiration date," she said. "That's very important, because so often people will pull food off their shelves that they're going to eat — it's perfectly good to them, and they would eat it — but the stamp is post-due. We can not legally give that to people. We would have to throw it away. So we really want them to check that."Egbert said a 501(c)(3) is being formed so people who want to make larger donations tax-deductible can do so.
Other avenues for donations are being worked out, as well.
"We're working with food commodities in the state to obtain some other food sources there," Egbert said. "We're partnering with the Wakonda Food Pantry on that, because they are a small food pantry like we are going to be. So we thought maybe if we partnered on the commodities, we could make better use of that resource, because that's bulk."
Although the food pantry is still in its early stages, donations have already been coming in.
"People have been very willing to donate," Egbert said. "We've just had a marvelous response, and we've hardly even started yet."
A fund-raiser was already held this past summer at Gayville-Volin School, and another one is being planned for Nov. 20.
"The students are going to be picking up canned goods, and they're going to have a fun night at the school for the kids, and they'll be donating food," Egbert said.
The Community Harvest Festival, which will be held Nov. 20, will also host a food collection.
Local groups are also pitching in, Egbert said.
"The Hay Country Women have already collected goods at their Halloween party, and they've donated those," she said. "They brought in a great big tub of stuff. They collected canned good, snack foods and other kinds of staples, and also pet food."
Egbert said this could be the first time Volin and Gayville have had their own food pantry.
"Most people have been going to Yankton or Vermillion — mostly Yankton, I think," she said. "They have an excellent food pantry there. It's just that … it's nice if people can help locally."
Egbert said pamphlets and other resources from the Yankton food bank will be available in Volin.
"We're just offering emergency food for local people," she said. "There are a lot of other resources available in Yankton that we want people to be aware of. So we will also be promoting those types of resources."
For more information on the Volin-Gayville Food Pantry and the Horizons Project, visit http://gayvillevolin.communityblogs.us/.