Hickory – For more than 22 years collecting cans of food to replenish local food banks and feed the hungry in our community has been taking place in the fall. Hickory’s Oktoberfest Castle of Cans annual food drive will soon be underway again. As in 2020 it will remain a virtual fundraising campaign and will run the entire month of October – from October 1-31, 2020. Funds raised are allocated to recipient agencies that purchase the needed food through Second Harvest Food Bank. For every $5 collected in our virtual campaign, Second Harvest can typically distribute 35 lbs. of food. The county-wide canned food campaign provides added supplies to soup kitchens and agencies that help families in need in our communities and the need continues to be high.

In 2019, Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina honored the Castle of Cans Campaign with a 2019 Food Drive Partner Award for a record-breaking collection from public and private schools and community sites in Catawba County. The food was distributed to eight soup kitchens and food pantries in the area. Even during a difficult year with limited school participation, the community came together during the 2020 virtual campaign to contribute a total of $11,066, equaling approximately 77,462 pounds food to meet the eight local recipient agency needs! This year’s goal is $15,000.

Food Lion, through its Food Lion Feeds hunger-relief initiative generously donated $3000 to last year’s efforts and will again provide its support by donating to the Oktoberfest Castle of Cans campaign “Hunger is closer than you think. Food insecurity can sneak up in an instant. School closings, lost jobs, serious illness or injuries and other unexpected events can quickly leave some of our most vulnerable neighbors wondering where their next meal will come from. Help us nourish our neighbors in need by joining with us to end hunger in the towns and cities we serve through Food Lion Feeds.”

Schools, businesses, organizations, and individuals are encouraged to “join” and create their own fund drive page within the Castle of Cans team. Each team will get a custom link once they create a page that can be shared within their network of supporters via email or social media. Click “join the team” and follow the easy instructions by visiting the Castle of Cans page or donate directly on the page: https://bit.ly/3ECkI1m

The first food drive and castle build took place in 1999. The idea to add the community service component to Oktoberfest came from architects Beemer Harrell and Marvin Folger. Susan Coleman, a Catawba County Schools’ educator and member of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, began coordinating the food drive and did so for many years until her death in 2013. The event now carries her name. St. Alban’s Episcopal Church has continued to coordinate the food collection for Hickory’s Downtown Development Association.

Since 2007, Castle of Cans has contributed 262,396 lbs. of food to eight local agencies – The Corner Table of Newton, Eastern Catawba County Cooperative Christian Ministries, Exodus Homes, The Family Care Center, Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministries, The Hickory Soup Kitchen, The Salvation Army, and Second Harvest Food Bank.

For information about the Castle of Cans or to join the team and participate, please contact Carleen Crawford at 828-781-0845 or Amy Ogle at 828-322-1121.