By Jim Newell
The Orion Neighborhood Television (ONTV) 9th annual 5 or 5 Food Drive on Saturday was a festive telecast of local dance and music groups, entertainers and segments with local leaders talking about the Orion community.
But the goal was clear: meet and surpass last year’s food drive total and help fill the shelves at the Oxford/Orion FISH Food Pantry.
“This year surpassed last year by miles. It was so productive,” said Ian Locke, executive director of ONTV, whose goal was to collect more than 6,000 pounds of food and toiletries for those in the area who may need assistance.
Don Danko is on the Oxford/Orion FISH Board of Directors and said he was grateful for ONTV’s annual food drive, which has contributed more than 30,000 pounds of food to the FISH pantry over the years.
“This is one of our major food drives of the year and we’re just so grateful for ONTV and all the support. It brings in food at a very important time. We rely so much on food drives,” Danko said. “Actually, this past year we distributed 186,000 pounds of food and one-third of that comes from food drives. And this is the first of the major (food drives) of the year.”
“Our business community has always been very supportive. The (Orion Area) Chamber of Commerce and their members came through for us,” Locke said.
ONTV sent out several collection boxes to area business and government offices, the library and several churches pitched in with collections. But this year was the year of the individual donor to help push the collections past the goal.
“Most of it was individual donors this year, and from 1-3 p.m. the volume was very high,” Locke said. “People popping in off the street to donate really helped.”
Besides the Orion/Oxford area, Locke said they also had donations from Independence Township, the Rochester area and from as far away as Romeo and Washington Township.
The pantry shelves are lower at this time of the year, after the holidays, and ONTV’s food drive will help refill those shelves.
“The demand over the holiday season is strong… we really don’t have another big move in food until around May with the Post Office food drive. So, this is a very important time for us to get the pantry shelves filled,” Danko said.
“And what we’re experiencing now is, even though the economy is going well, there’s a tremendous amount of legitimate need out there for people to feed their families. We get about 170 shopping trips a month from families that rely on this,” he said.
Replays of the food drive are broadcast on ONTV’s Comcast Channels 10, 20 or 22, or AT&T’s U-verse Channel 99. For more information on ONTV’s programs, or to donate to FISH, visit www.orionONTV.org and www.oxfordorionfish.org.