EDITOR'S NOTE: At WTVA, "Pack the Pickup" is a tradition -- a chance to donate food to help those in need during the holiday season. This year, Mike Russell was part of a large team of WTVA employees that manned the Farmers Depot in downtown Tupelo, where many drove through, donating food to needy families. Here's his perspective of the day's events.
TUPELO, MIss. (WTVA) - “It was cold outside, but imagine how much colder it would be if you didn’t have anything to eat. That’s why we do Pack the Pickup. It’s the right thing to do, especially at this time of the year."
Almost any non-perishable food was just fine for Pack the Pickup - and people started bringing it in early. One quick look and you could tell people were ready to give and give and give. Morning anchor Bill Hughes got the ball rolling on the air early and says the pickups started filling up quick.
"The reaction's been amazing," he says. "We've had so many people coming out all morning long, starting at just after five o'clock we got our first people coming out - and we've had such a reaction - everybody's been so happy to give. It's been amazing."
Donors rolled in hot and heavy. I asked them why they were so eager to help.
"I have empathy for people that just don't have the money for Christmas for their kids to feed them, and I try to do as much as I can," says Sheila Maxey.
"We ought to help our fellow man," agrees Ruby Carr. "That's what the season's about...love."
"I figure there's some folks out there that need some help," says Dana Ramey. "A little extra help, you know, that maybe doesn't have enough to feed their family, so hopefully this will help them."
Jason Martin, who heads up the St. Luke Food Pantry explains why the results of the Pack the Pickup effort are so essential.
"There's so many people that are dealing with food insecurity in our area," says Martin. "Today's event is tremendous because it gives us the opportunity for our community to reach out, really give a hand up to a lot of people who are in need."
Rudy Dossett, from Dossett Big 4, who donated the pickups, had his thoughts, too.
"It's just the nature of North Mississippi," says Dossett. "Everybody comes together and gives. It's just a good deal."
At the end of the day, we’re all glad to be part of the Pack the Pickup effort. And when the food is distributed and those smiles come out, it makes the holidays that much brighter.