MANITOWOC, Wis. - About 200 families every week rely on Peter's Pantry for food. The Manitowoc Police Department recognizes the need and is now spearheading a new campaign to help keep the shelves stocked. They call it the '10 Most Wanted' Food Drive.
"We wanted to give back to the community and make people aware of the problems that people are going through," said Jeri Lynn Christensen, Office Manager at the Police Department.
Christensen and her team put out collection bins at five locations in the city. They include the Police Department, City Hall, Public Library, public utilities building and the Manitowoc Senior Center. Organizers are asking you to drop off non-perishable food items each month, January through April, to help feed those they protect and serve.
"Our officers go in houses all the time that see children that are not well fed or well kept, and those are conditions they see on a daily basis," she explained.
Many people who are struggling turn to Peter's Pantry.
"The expenses are up on clothing, even food items if they have to go purchase it. If we can help them out in any way, that's a big help to them," said Pantry Manager Woody Shulander.
1,500 people a year use the pantry to eat. With such high demand, a new food drive like this insures no one will leave empty handed.
"There's people that are so happy to get something," said pantry volunteer Kenneth Kouba.
Each month of the drive has a different theme and requests a certain type of food donation. January was "Souper Bowl" during National Soup Month. February is "Oodles of Noodles." March is "Canned Mania" seeking canned fruits and vegetables. Lastly, April is "Breakfast Bonanza."
"They did a great job marketing this idea and the different products that are coming in has just been so good. It gives a variety of things for the families to choose from," said Shulander.
In just the first month, the police department dropped off over 1,200 food items.
"It's like opening presents, not knowing what's going to be in each box," he said.
Christensen added, "I can't believe the outpour that we have gotten. People will call and say, 'Can I still drop off?' We're just amazed."
With the food drive only one month in, organizers hope it will end just as strong as it started.
"We hope that we've made a difference and the families can take some of that pressure off of them," she said.
"To see the recipients, the people coming through and the smile on their face, it just makes you feel really good," said Shulander.