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Local volunteers assist with a Golden Harvest Food Bank food distribution at Thomson-McDuffie Middle School on Nov. 13. From left is Golden Harvest Director of Community Partnerships Pam Rascon, Susan Thigpen with the McDuffie Achievement Center, TMMS teacher Caroline Williams, County Recreation Department Director Trevor Welcher and Thomson Family YMCA Senior Program Director Jennifer Harris-Daniels.

Hundreds of vehicles, some of which have seen better days, driven by senior citizens, parents of young children, the homeless and others calmly entered the bus driveway at Thomson McDuffie Middle School to form a long, orderly line for a food distribution last Friday. The food giveaway fed about 800 food insecure households, according to Pam Rascon, director of community partnerships with Golden Harvest Food Bank in Augusta.

“Our community has stepped up to the plate,” Rascon said.

The food giveaway was a collaborative effort between Golden Harvest, the McDuffie County School System and the Thomson Family YMCA.

Civilian volunteers from the local community and 12 Georgia National Guard service men and women wearing masks set up stations and placed boxes filled with non-perishable foods, fresh produce, cartons of eggs and blocks of butter and cheese into recipients’ trunks or truck beds. Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the distribution was set up as a contact-free event.

Dr. Neal Tam, Administrative Services Director for McDuffie County public schools, said 30,000 pounds of food were distributed last Friday afternoon. Each box held 40-45 pounds of food, Tam said. He added that school resource officers directed traffic and Golden Harvest staffers handled recipients’ paperwork for the distribution.

Rascon explained that an index card on the windshield of each vehicle indicated the number of households to be served. That number corresponded to the number of boxes volunteers would place into the rear of recipients’ cars and trucks.

One elderly veteran waved at National Guard service members, thanking them for their service to country and telling volunteers he was grateful for the food distribution.

“They (National Guard) have been just critical to serving 19 counties and over 75 food pantries and missions like this on a large scale,” Rascon said.

Rascon said Golden Harvest has stepped up its food distributions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are out of work and need assistance, she said. Golden Harvest will hold 22 food distributions across its 25-county service area between now and Christmas, according to Rascon.

In addition to volunteering, residents’ generous donating allows Golden Harvest to assist area families hit financially hard by the pandemic, Rascon said.

“A dollar helps, $5 helps; any contribution you can give,” she said.

Golden Harvest has partnered with corporations, community groups and food pantries to feed families struggling with hunger since 1982.

For more information or to donate, visit goldenharvest.org.

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