Before the gates opened Thursday for the first day of the Spring Fair, a large crowd had lined up in front of the main gate with bags of food for the Puyallup Food Bank.
Karen LaFlamme, public relations counsel for the Washington State Fair, said the food drive was an annual event. Children 18 years of age and younger were admitted free on opening day with a suggested food donation. Bags of nonperishable food kept coming in at a steady pace throughout the afternoon.
“The Puyallup Food Bank food drive has been a tradition at the Spring Fair for many years and we love having them here each year,” LaFlamme said, adding that these donations help our neighbors in need and the kids feel good about donating.
Director of Operations for the Puyallup Food Bank Shanna Peterson said they are extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the community.
“People recognize the presence of the Food Bank and this food drive gives them yet another opportunity to get their kids in to the Spring Fair for free, and to give back to the community,” she said.
The Puyallup Food Bank served 1,489,344 meals in 2013 and the need continues to grow, Peterson said.
“We have a steady flow of families in need and these food drives help boost our ability to serve them,” she said.
On opening day, Puyallup Food Bank volunteers Karen Kiilsgaard and Vicki Pullin stood ready at the main gate as the food started pouring in.
“This is an important time. The food bank receives tons of food in November and December, and then donations slow down and we depend on these donations folks are making today,” Pullin said.
Rosalynn Vargas and Carly Watson were on hand to pass out fliers and accept cash donations for the food bank.
The two women are part of a group of 14 women and three children who are here for six months doing volunteer work on behalf of the Christian Biker Tabernacle Volunteer Services in Sacramento, Calif.
The Correia family — Mandy and Merlin with children Justin, Ryan, Wyatt and Kale — said they wanted to help the food bank and took advantage of the free admission for the kids.
“We love the Spring Fair,” Mandy said.
After dropping off their donations, the children were offered free candy from the food bank volunteers.
Every time the huge cardboard boxes were filled with food donations, volunteers loaded it into grocery carts and wheeled it to a waiting truck.
Curtis Horton and his daughter, Cayanne, were headed to get an elephant ear as soon as they dropped off their food donation.
“I bring her every year to celebrate her birthday,” Horton said.
“The food bank is filled with gratitude for everything the fair has done and continues to do. They have helped the food bank succeed with their donation of space and helping us with the advertising,” Peterson said.
Donations this year amounted to 12,190 pounds, enough to serve 9,752 meals to families.