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The people behind this year’s Community Holiday Food Drive are asking Benton County residents to fill their donation bags and put them out for pickup on Saturday morning.

Boy Scout troops, church groups and other volunteers dropped off the bags at area homes last weekend and will be making the rounds from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday to pick them up. Donated items will be transported to the Benton County Fairgrounds for storage until Thanksgiving week.

Organizers hope to distribute about 45,000 pounds of food to more than 4,400 low-income people, many of them children, said Judy Gibson, a local real estate broker who’s spearheading the annual food drive. She added that requests for emergency food boxes are up 10 percent in the last three months.

“The need is definitely out there,” Gibson said.

“We’re in our 35th year now, and I think a lot of people have come to depend on it to provide a Thanksgiving dinner.”

Canned fruits and vegetables, pumpkin and cranberry sauce are among the items needed, along with boxed or bagged stuffing, canned milk, tuna, canned meats, peanut butter, baby food, bread mix and muffin mix. Organizers are also asking for fresh apples, potatoes and other produce.

Cash donations are also needed, Gibson said. About $30,000 must be raised to purchase turkeys, chickens, eggs and other perishable items that go into a holiday feast.

Checks should be made out to Community Holiday Food Drive and mailed to Gibson in care of Coldwell Banker Valley Brokers, 1109 N.W. Ninth St., Corvallis, OR 97330. Additional food items can also be dropped off at the real estate office. To make arrangements to deliver a large bulk food donation, call Gibson at 541-740-8938.

Volunteers will spend several days next week sorting donations, bagging up produce and filling boxes with holiday staples. On Nov. 23, the Monday before Thanksgiving, low-income families will converge on the fairgrounds to pick up boxes of canned foods, dry goods, fruits and vegetables, along with a turkey and other perishables such as butter and eggs.

Applications for Thanksgiving food baskets are available at Community Services Consortium, the Vina Moses Center and local food pantries.

Reporter Bennett Hall can be reached at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.

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Special Projects Editor

Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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