The largest single-day food drive benefiting the Clark County Food Bank is making some changes this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the annual Walk & Knock has shifted to a Drive & Drop Dec. 5 as a way to keep the event going.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., volunteers at eight locations across Clark County will be taking in food donations from participants’ cars as part of the drive. Usually the annual drive, put on by the Interservice Walk & Knock organization, had thousands of volunteers going door-to-door collecting bags sent to houses prior for the event, which collected hundreds of thousands of pounds of food every year.
Interservice Walk & Knock President Tom Knappenger said “It’s a big departure” for 2020’s event after doing the food drive more or less the same for 35 years. During the initial rise of the pandemic in Clark County, organizers thought there was still a possibility of having the event as usual, he said, though when COVID-19 continued to spread and the state was continuing its response it became clear that to do so would be problematic for the some 4,000 volunteers who take part in the drive.
Knappenberger said the Interservice Walk & Knock board met through the Summer to discuss how to approach this year’s event, if there even would be a food drive at all. Walk & Knock.
Organizers, largely comprising local Lions, Kiwanis and Rotary Club members, were adamant about continuing the drive in some form, he said.
“They’re so dedicated to this that they wouldn’t hear of canceling the drive or postponing it,” Knappenberger said. The food and money donated goes to the Clark County Food Bank, and on normal years the drive brings in roughly 300,000 pounds of food, he explained.
“Every dollar donated, every pound of food goes right to the food bank,” Knappenberger said. The event is funded through dues paid by supporting organizations, donations of supplies and sponsorships from private and corporate entities.
Knappenberger said there would be about a dozen volunteers at each of the eight sites, who would take donations in a way similar to a reverse version of contactless grocery shopping, removing the food from the car. Instead of the usual bags, this year Walk & Knock has mailed out information cards to homes explaining the change in procedure.
Though the eight locations would be collecting only on Dec. 5, Knappenberger noted there would be 25 donation barrels around the county, listed on the Walk & Knock website, set up from Dec. 1 to Dec. 14.
Though the need has increased due to economic effects of the pandemic and government response, Knappenberger said that he’s noticed donations to food banks also increase during times of economic struggle.
“People just have it more in their minds that there’s a need, and Clark County is a very generous place,” Knappenberger said.
Knappenberger said this year Walk & Knock has been supported by work from Washington State University Vancouver students studying digital media in the drive’s outreach efforts.
“It’s been a real blessing since we’re doing it differently this (year,)” Knappenberger remarked.
Knappenberger said organizers are anticipating less in the way of food donations, but there was a possibility of more monetary ones than usual given the relative ease at which they could be made.
“Whatever we do I think is to the good for the food bank and the people in need of the county,” Knappenberger remarked.