Food For Families food drive inspires Central Texans, young and old, to give and volunteer

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 4:58 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Food For Families 2022 is already a record-breaking year with numbers still being tallied and days later we’re beginning to learn even more stories about the people behind the effort which made it such a big success.

Merri Zilka, 73, a longtime resident of Speegleville who now lives in Alvarado, has shown up at the KWTX drop-off location for a decade now with a generous check in hand of $10,000.

She said she does it year after year because she once was the recipient of help from a food pantry.

“I remember when I was young and had my kids, at first, we had some rough times and I got help and now I’m able to help others, so I do,” Merri said.

Merri said giving makes her feel good and it’s a feeling everyone can have no matter how big or small a donation.

“Whatever you can do is fine,” Merri said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a dollar or ten thousand dollars. It doesn’t matter. The thing is to actually give.”

Mariah McBride, 13, is an 8th grader at McGregor Junior High. She started saving change three years ago because she wanted to help those in need.

“I would see people on the side of the streets, and I was just like thinking I should start saving money to help them so that others could have food,” she said.

Mariah emptied out two full piggy banks which amounted to $123.

And it wasn’t just funds that people gave to make the largest one-day food drive in the state of Texas a success.

Hundreds of people volunteered their time at donation sites including high school athletes, clubs, bands, Boy Scouts, Masons, businesses and individuals, to name a few.

29-year-old Terry, who has developmental disabilities, comes every year to Food For Families at the KWTX Waco location. He parks his wheelchair at a table next to his mom and helps sort food for hours.

“I like to help people,” Terry told KWTX.

11-year-old twins Ian and Cole Watson from Whitney came along with the Masons and were put to work.

They spent the morning unloading donations into grocery carts, pushing them across the scale to get a weight and then helped sort them for area pantries.

“I like helping people,” Cole said. “I like helping people in need that need food and everything.”

The total as of Monday is 2.83 million pounds, breaking all previous records for Food for Families and the donations are still being counted.

HEB’s campaign totals have yet to be added and online giving at continues until midnight on November 30.