Every year, the 24/7 Travel Store raises money for the Abilene Area Food and Clothing Bank through the Food Bank Fill Up Drive and every year the amount of money raised has grown larger and larger.
This year, the drive brought in a total of $9,393.95, which employees presented to food bank volunteers Thursday afternoon.
General Manager of 24/7 Natalie Dick said the funds were raised largely by taking donations at the register. Customers could add a dollar or so onto their bills or drop cash in a donation bin and it would go straight to the local food bank. Triplett —the company that owns 24/7 — matched donations up to $3,000. Employees also enlisted local businesses to donate to the drive.
Because 24/7 is a gas station located near I-70, the drive elicited donations from travelers from all around the United States.
“We had a lady who works at a food bank in Pennsylvania that left a $5 bill,” Dick said.
In total, before Triplett matched the donations, the drive raised well over $6,000 for the food bank.
Last year, including matching funds, the annual drive raised about $8,200 and the year before that it raised a little more than $6,000, Dick said.
“We really are proud of that accomplishment,” Dick said. “We’re really proud that we can offer that every year.”
She believes the drive brought in so many donations this year because so many of 24/7’s employees had been working at the store during the previous year’s donation drive and had experience asking for donations from customers.
“When you get somebody new, they’re a little shy about asking,” Dick said. “And we made it simple. It’s ‘would you like to donate to our local food bank?’ instead of a big, long spiel.”
She said she tracked the numbers daily and watched the amount grow until the drive ended Oct. 1.
“I was excited,” Dick said. “Our goal was $9,000 just because we wanted to beat last year’s, so I was pretty happy with that. One of the (employees) had a goal of $10,000. That was kind of pushing it.”
If the amount raised keeps growing every time the drive takes place, however, it might be an attainable goal for next year.
Lindsay Hobbs was the 24/7 employee who brought in the largest amount of donations this year. She was responsible for bringing in donations from businesses.
“I know a lot of people that could use it,” Hobbs said.
Her mother works at the HOPE Center and has impressed upon her the value of helping the community.
District Manager Terry Patry said all 10 of the 24/7 Travel Stores in the state took part in similar drives.
The Abilene store outperformed them all this year, he said.
“The exciting part was the fun of watching the staff working really hard to make a difference in the community,” Patry said. “Because that’s what it’s about is how we support them.”
Food bank volunteer Laura Wilson said the donation would go toward providing food and other essential supplies such as baby gear and hygiene products to people in need in the community.
Wilson said the food bank helps about 50 different families per month.
“Each family averages probably $160 per family,” she said.
This totals out to about $8,000 worth of goods per month between 50 families. Because the local food bank purchases many of the items it distributes from the Kansas Food Bank, the food is much cheaper.
Because of this, Wilson said the donation from 24/7 could last about six months.
She said she was thrilled but not terribly shocked to learn the amount of money the drive brought in because the numbers have gone up every year and the event has always brought in a large amount of donations.
“People are so generous, too,” Wilson said. “In this pandemic we’re going through, everybody’s just been extra nice, extra generous.”
She said it’s extremely important to be able to provide help to people in need.
“(It’s) just to help people over that small, little hump,” Wilson said. “Everybody needs a little boost every now and then.”
In other words, it’s easier for people to do the things they need to do in order to survive and to lift themselves out of poverty if they’re not hungry while they’re doing it.
September was national food bank month, according to Dick.
“They count on donations,” Dick said of the food bank. “It kind of benefits the whole community and not just one individual place.”