‘Ready To Go Back To Work’

As Annual Brent Berry Food Drive Wraps, Family Plans Another

Posted: December 31, 2013

James “Bucky” Berry (left to right), Salvation Army Capt. Duane Burleigh and Brent Berry stand in front of a Harrisonburg city bus Monday that was just emptied of donations for the Brent Berry Community Food Drive. The Harrisonburg Salvation Army expects it now has enough food to last through spring. (Photos by Nikki Fox / DN-R)
A large pile of food from the Brent Berry Community Food Drive sits in the Harrisonburg Salvation Army’s storage area after being unloaded from a city bus on Monday.

HARRISONBURG — Some local public safety and transportation officials got a good — albeit quick — workout on Monday morning.

About 20 volunteers — from the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, Harrisonburg Police Department, Harrisonburg Fire Department and Harrisonburg Transportation Department — formed an assembly line and helped heave boxes full of donations into the Harrisonburg Salvation Army.

Within 20 minutes, 19 palettes of food were stacked with brown plastic and cardboard boxes filled with nonperishable foodstuffs. The items were the haul from the fifth annual Brent Berry Community Food Drive.

“We’re glad to help out in some small way,” said Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson. “I think [the drive] was successful. If that goes to help people right here in our community, it’s a great thing.”

Food drive organizer James “Bucky” Berry and his son, Brent, can be credited with the success of the endeavor.

The duo endured the elements outside the Harrisonburg Crossing Walmart for 12 hours a day from Dec. 12 through Sunday passing out lists and collecting items from shoppers.

“Your body might be cold, but you’re warm in your heart,” Bucky Berry said. “You have to do what you say you’re going to do.”

The Berrys carried through on a promise to help replenish the Salvation Army’s food supply. They ended the drive with a $200 donation and a busload and a half of goods, including food, hygiene items and even a bike.

Capt. Duane Burleigh, who runs the local Salvation Army, said by his eyeball’s estimation it looks like the food collected will last through May or June.

“It looks like it’s going to go a little further this year,” Burleigh said.

In a typical month, the shelter provides 400 to 500 area families with food. In December, 945 families received food baskets for Christmas, not to mention other families who received regular food assistance, Burleigh said.

The monthly need is remaining steady or increasing slightly, making the donation imperative, Burleigh said. Now, money collected through the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle fundraising campaign can be used for other needs.

“We can stretch the Christmas money elsewhere; we help any ways we can,” Burleigh said. “We are in a war against poverty. This food will help us do battle.”

Berry also was satisfied with the results.

“It’s the best one yet,” said Berry, who is already planning another food drive for March. “Six months worth of food ain’t too shabby.”

Added Brent Berry: “I’m ready to go back to work.”

 Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or esharrer@dnronline.com

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