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The community united in an effort Sunday to ensure Wilson’s hungry are fed. Hundreds attended the Tobs’ annual Home Run for Hunger Celebration event at Fleming Stadium.
Teresa Smith took a big bag of canned food near the gate. She said it’s vital for those who have to give back to those who don’t.
“It could be me,” Smith said. “It could be you. We’re all susceptible to it. So we should all pitch in together.”
Smith said she was also excited to be a part of such a community-wide event.
“It’s an opportunity to give back and to see a great ballgame,” she said.
All food collected will go toward more than a dozen Wilson pantries that are in desperate need of filling their shelves to help feed the hungry over the summer months.
‘IT DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT’
Volunteers spent the evening packing the Tobs’ bus with an array of nonperishable food items.
“This is something we look forward to all year,” said volunteer Gary Farmer with the Wilson Luncheon Lions Club. “We’ve got a food desert here, and there is a real need.”
He said Sunday’s event brings the town together for a worthy cause.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Farmer said.
The night was packed with not only baseball, but food, fun and entertainment. Fans took nonperishable food items in lieu of an entrance fee for Sunday night’s doubleheader.
The event is one of the largest food drives in Wilson County. Not only will pantries receive canned food items, but fresh produce as well, thanks to many farms.
Mike Bell, Tobs general manager, said about 16,000 pounds of sweet potatoes had been donated from Scott Farms, Vick Family Farms, Sharp Farms and Nash Produce.
Bell hoped this year would be even bigger in terms of food collected than any other year.
“We’re easily going to have 30,000 pounds of food this time,” he said. Bell said seeing everyone head out to the celebration event Sunday to fight against hunger, warmed his heart.
“It makes me ecstatic because we are bringing the community and those less fortunate and baseball together,” he said. “It shows me that everybody cares from all points of Wilson County. They are all coming together for one cause.”
The food collected Sunday will be distributed evenly to all pantries. They are slated to pick up their share of the food Monday.
Historically, the Wilson Tobs’ Home Run for Hunger was a one-day event that raised thousands of pounds of food for area pantries. But last year, organizers wanted to expand its mission, and it became an entire season of giving leading up to the celebration game day. The Tobs held numerous Home Run for Hunger food drives at multiple sporting events throughout the past several months. Instead of entrance fees for those games, teams took canned goods in support of the cause. Parents and fans received discounted game tickets. Organizers have already raised more than 6,000 pounds of food so far during the season of giving.
Multiple businesses, sponsors, clubs, organizations and others have joined in for the cause donating money, food, pallets of water and sweet potatoes.