Bright skies and smiling volunteers greeted Great Bend Walmart and Dillons shoppers Saturday as the Barton County Young Professionals and the Great Bend Rotary Club teamed up once again to collect supplies for local charitable organizations.
Approximately 30 volunteers from the two organizations took up posts in hour-long shifts at both Walmart entrances and the 10th Street Dillons store from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The volunteers were collecting donations for Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas and Barton County food bank from shoppers willing to pick up a few extra items on their way through the stores.
BCYP representative Brandon Steinert, who was stationed in front of Walmart Saturday morning, said the drive is a chance to make a positive difference in the community for those in need.
“A lot of people are doing well, but some are not,” Steinert said. “It’s just a good opportunity to spread the love around, and to help each other out.”
This year marked the eighth year for the annual drive. After having to take a year hiatus from the drive due to COVID-19 in 2020, Steinert said it is nice to be able to be out manning the stores again this year.
“It is very refreshing to not be cooped up in our houses, and (instead) be out here able to help people,” he said.
Upon entering, shoppers at Walmart received a small “shopping list” from volunteers for Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas that included household basics such as baby items, personal hygiene items, toiletries, and other basics such as trash bags, paper towels and first aid supplies.
At Dillons, volunteers collected monetary donations as well as non-parishable packaged food items to be donated to the Food Bank of Barton County.
Andrea Bauer, one of the BCYP volunteers stationed at Dillons Saturday morning, is glad to be part of what she sees as an important community project.
“At the food bank, as soon as the shelves fill up they empty out again, so this is an easy way (in a few hours) to hopefully make a difference for families in our community,” Bauer said.
Bauer and fellow BCYP volunteer Megan Hammeke both had their young sons with them, and Bauer said it was also a good way to teach their children about the importance of community service and giving back.
The event is usually held during cooler winter months, so Hammeke said being able to hold the drive under bright spring skies and warm temperatures was a blessing.
Steinert said volunteers each focus on collecting for a single organization to allow for an easier sorting and delivery process once the items are collected.
Steinert said all items collected at Walmart go directly to Catholic Charities, and all items collected at Dillon’s are for the food bank. Once the organizations were finished collecting the items Saturday afternoon, they would be loaded into waiting vans and delivered immediately to those organizations.
In past years, Steinert said, the drive has resulted in thousands of pounds worth of donations for Catholic Charities and the food bank, and he expected this year’s drive would yield similar results from Great Bend shoppers.