Created: 12/20/2013 6:25 PM KAALtv.com
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- On Friday, members of the Austin community banded together to help feed families in need.
Volunteers set up hundreds of bags filled with food at the Austin Hy-Vee on Friday afternoon as part of the store’s sixth annual Feed A Family event.
The bags contained enough food to make one large holiday meal, and organizers said they expected to feed more than 700 families.
"We want to make sure that everybody has a Christmas dinner,” said Todd Hepler, the store manager. “This year we went out and set our goals high to raise $15,000, and we've exceeded that amount by over $4,000. So this is going to help not only the family members now, but also help the food bank in the month of January."
And the food bank will need that help as more and more families find themselves struggling to put food on the table this holiday season.
"The demand has grown considerably from what it was even 10 years ago,” said volunteer Bill Newell. “We just continue to meet the need as much as we possibly can."
The meals were made possible by donations from Hy-Vee, Mrs. Gerry's, and the Mower County Dairy Association, and volunteers said they were happy to see the community work together to help those in need.
"There's a lot of people that are very thankful, lots of hugs today, a lot of people crying,” Hepler said. “In our community we do more than just talk about that we care for our fellow neighbor, but we really do care about them, and today you're really seeing a community come together as a whole."
"I'm going to walk out of here probably two inches taller than I am right now,” Newell said laughing. “And with a heart that fills this whole big body, and it's going to be a nice feeling."