COLUMBIA — Donning a festive holiday hat, Melissa Pasley watched as her husband, a fire fighter, posed with others from Station 1 around an antique firetruck for a photo.
"Let's go do our civic duty," he said as he walked back to where she stood, taking one of the cardboard signs and heading toward the corner of Broadway and Providence Road.
The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, in partnership with Inside Columbia magazine and Zimmer Radio Group, is well on its way to conquering the mayor's challenge of collecting 1 million pounds of food by the end of the day.
By 12:05 p.m., 593,153 pounds of food had been collected, said Bobbi Kincade, the Food Bank's director of development, and there were still many pickups to come before the drive closes at 6 p.m.
Some of the food donated was from individual drives from businesses and fire departments, said Rachel Ellersieck, communications coordinator for the bank.
She said every dollar donated counts as 20 pounds of food toward the count. So far they have received a fairly even mix of money and food donations.
"It's such a generous community," Kincade said. "They really look out for their neighbors."
John Lapsley, distribution manager for Inside Columbia magazine, said they have received several large donations, from $100 checks to thousands of pounds of food.
Two large donations were made around lunchtime. Senator Kurt Schaefer said he dropped off 536.5 pounds of hams from Farmland Foods. Boone Electric Cooperative's communication specialist, Jim Robertson, donated a total gift of $3,500 and 200 pounds of canned goods, from kidney beans to pasta sauce.
The food drive continues at the corner of Broadway and Providence Road, and at Gerbes at 205 East Nifong Boulevard, through 6 p.m. People are encouraged to continue donating money and food for families in need.