Local schools collect nearly 8,000 pounds of food for those in need

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Sherri Clixby: Third-grade students and the Safford Lions Club sort food donations Wednesday morning.

By Brooke Curley


SAFFORD – Graham County parents, it’s that time of year to be extra proud of your children.

Thanks to the hard work of the local school staff, as well as the hundreds of students who brought canned food to school in their backpacks, Our Neighbor’s Farm & Pantry Food Bank received 7,955 pounds of donated food.

The day before Thanksgiving, Gila Valley Central visited the food bank and chatted with Sherri Clixby, director of Our Neighbor’s Farm & Pantry. Clixby had posted requests for aid in preparing the school donations in sorting and storing over the previous weeks on Facebook. However, when Gila Valley Central arrived the afternoon of the school donation arrival, Clixby said that to her delight, everything had been packaged and put away.

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: Sherri Clixby stands in front of one entire wall of sorted and boxed donations from the local schools that were two boxes deep. More donations were in another storage room.

Clixby told Gila Valley Central that a task that would have taken all day was quickly completed with the aid of a local third-grade class of students and the Safford Lions Club. Also, Clixby said she hopes that the food will last for at least a little beyond the holiday season.

“This food will last us beyond Christmas and some time into the winter,” Clixby said. “We will be getting more food drives; a lot of food groups do food drives in December. So, we will do the same thing; we’ll pack it up and put it away because we don’t get a lot of food donations in the winter time. In past years, we got to the end of the summer and we were down to a dozen cans in there. So, we’ve got to stock up in this time in the holiday season.”

Later, Clixby expressed her gratefulness to the local children in Graham County for their willingness to help those in need.

“We are just so grateful that the kids in this county really take this seriously,” Clixby said. “They want to help families (who) need some help, and it’s just a tremendous help to many families.”

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: Sherri Clixby shows members of the Boys and Girls Club of the Gila Valley how to form seed blocks in the Our Neighbor’s Farm & Pantry greenhouse.

A little more than 400 families visit the Our Neighbor’s Farm & Pantry Food Bank, which computes to roughly 16,000 individuals being served by the bank’s resources. Whatever extra that is yielded by the food bank’s garden is donated to the local Meals on Wheels Program, which serves roughly 90 individuals. Working within the community, Our Neighbor’s Farm & Pantry also works with the Boys and Girls Club of the Gila Valley, giving the members a chance to do community service and teaching gardening skills.

Clixby uses the french fry boxes that are donated by the local McDonalds restaurant to store and stack the contributed canned foods. Although Clixby is grateful for McDonalds’ contribution of their boxes, she also respectfully requested that they send more.

Over the holiday season, Our Neighbor’s Farm & Pantry is expecting multiple donations in larger quantities. When another donation sorting party is scheduled, Clixby will be posting an invite to the community to help separate and sort the food donations on the food bank’s Facebook page. To visit Our Neighbor’s Farm & Pantry’s Facebook page, click here.

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: A hard frost has yet to hit the Gila Valley, and Our Neighbor’s Farm & Pantry was a beautiful scene of the harvest Wednesday.