A Sioux Falls charity may expand to the Vermillion area if it gains enough votes in a Walmart campaign.
Junior Josh Hayes co-founded the Faith Temple Food Giveaway in Sioux Falls, which feeds 1,000 people each week. The giveaway has teamed up with Feeding South Dakota for Walmart’s Fight Hunger Spark Change campaign.
“It’s been exciting, even from the start,” Hayes said.
Feeding South Dakota has consistently resided at second place on the list, at around 100 votes below the top contender. As long as the organization remains in the top 50, Feeding South Dakota will receive $60,000, with $3,500 going toward the Faith Temple Food Giveaway.
The money would allow the Faith Temple Food Giveaway to expand to Clay County and the Vermillion area, a need Hayes said is crucial because one in three people in Clay County struggle with hunger. He said he would work with the university organization Cru to bring his organization to the region, but would welcome assistance from other groups.
“The more people we have trying to fight hunger, that’d be the best thing,” Hayes said.
The Faith Temple Food Giveaway started in 2009 after Hayes began noticing a need in his community in wake of the recession.
“For me, it taught me how to work for what I believe in — that someone successful can be laid off,” Hayes said. “Having that humbleness, being able to pull through, it’s taught me to keep on fighting.”
At the first food line giveaway, the organization gave food to 69 people. He expected the program to only fill a need for a few months or up to a year. Now, Hayes works with the government to make sure the organization follows food regulations, and is even licensed as a food inspector.
“It’s cool to see how there actually is a need in South Dakota,” Hayes said.
Junior Sara Bruce began volunteering at the Faith Temple Food Giveaway in January after hearing about the organization from Hayes. Now, she drives up to volunteer as often as she can, performing tasks such as directing people in the food line to refilling food bins.
“I like knowing I am making a difference in someone’s life,” Bruce said.
Bruce has been voting for Feeding South Dakota as often as she can and has been reminding her friends to vote for the organization to receive the funds.
“If we win, we really want to expand, so vote for it,” Bruce said.
She said she’s looking forward to the organization expanding to Vermillion, and perhaps even Brookings.
“We’ll make food more accessible for those who need it,” Bruce said. “It’s something you don’t even think about. You never truly know what’s going on with someone financially.”
For now, Hayes is trying to spread the word.
“It only takes a couple of seconds to vote,” he said. “Even just by Facebook, it’s being widely spread. For me, it taught me how to work for what I believe in. It’s taught me to keep on fighting.”
(Photo: Senior Tiffany Ortman makes her way through a line of CRU members in order to fill bags of food for the Feeding South Dakota program Monday. Malachi Petersen / The Volante)