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Dozens of fans stepped up to the plate Sunday to help the hungry during the annual Wilson Tobs’ Home Run for Hunger Celebration.
“I think it’s a great cause,” said Kelly Kornegay, who was with her husband, Tommy, and two children, Kayden and Avery Pearl. “We get to enjoy a great baseball game as well as help out people who are less fortunate than us. We love the Tobs.”
The fun-filled event collected nonperishable food items for more than a dozen local pantries in exchange for free admission to Sunday’s baseball game at Fleming Stadium.
Various community volunteers including the Lions Club spent Sunday separating and organizing all food donations.
“It’s a group effort,” said Michael Bell, Tobs general manager. Bell said the event, which is in its seventh year, is still going strong.
“We’ve had more events,” he said. “We’ve had more people donate. And the people who are donating are donating more than they have before.”
Bell said before the gates opened Sunday, volunteers had already collected enough food to fill the Tobs’ bus.
“Anything brought into the game is just that, excess,” he said. “The community has just stepped up even more. That shows how big this event has become.”
‘I’M SO THANKFUL’
Home Run For Hunger is considered one of the largest food drives in Wilson. Area pantries are typically in desperate need to fill their shelves over the summer months to help the hungry. The food collected Sunday will be distributed evenly to pantries on Monday.
“This is going to help feed some families, not just one person,” said Candy Taylor, co-founder of the nonprofit New Christian Food Pantry and Child Development Center on Douglas Street. “The impact of people needing food is so great.”
Taylor said the generosity of the Wilson community warms her heart.
“I’m so thankful this is done, and we come together to do it,” she said. “We’re all together in this.”
‘IT’S BIGGER THAN BASEBALL’
The Wilson Tobs’ Home Run for Hunger began as a one-day event several years ago. But organizers expanded its mission to become an entire season of giving leading up to the celebration game day. Thousands of pounds of food were donated prior to Sunday’s event at various venues and sporting events. Various farms, businesses, individuals and civic groups have also been a part of the year’s success.
Bell said seeing so many people rally for a cause shows him just how much they care about their community. “It’s bigger than baseball,” he said. “They care about their neighbors, and they care about the people sitting right next to them in the bleachers.”
Sponsors this year included The Wilson Times, EmergeOrtho, Stephenson Millwork Co., Wilson Medical Center, State Farm, S.T. Wooten, Food Lion Feeds, Lions Club, Mt. Olive Pickle Co., 98.5 Big Dawg and Movin’ 99.3 WZAX.
Pantries who will benefit from the Home Run for Hunger event include:
• Bible’s Way Ministry Inc.
• Glad Tidings Gospel Hall Church
• Hope Station
• New Christian Food Pantry & Child Development Center
• Life in the Word
• New Life Rock of Ages Christian Fellowship Center
• Open Door Community Outreach Center
• Salvation Army
• St. Paul’s Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ
• St. John AME Zion Church
• The Community Soup Kitchen of Wilson County
• Veterans’ Residential Services of Wilson
• Contending for the Faith
• The CHEW
• Wilson Police Department pantry.