In the last two weeks, shoppers donated roughly $50,000 in food to the annual Brent Berry Food Drive.

Now in its 13th year, James “Bucky” Berry and his 22-year-old son, Brent Berry, started the drive because food pantries helped the elder Berry when he was a child.

The food was unloaded Monday morning at the Harrisonburg Salvation Army on Ashby Street.

“This is the biggest haul in history,” the father said.

Entering this year’s campaign, the family collected enough food to feed more than 40,000 families.

Last year, the Berry family set up at the now-defunct Red Front Supermarket on Chicago Avenue in Harrisonburg.

This year’s collection started on Dec. 18 at Bridgewater Foods and wrapped up Sunday.

The family aimed to collect enough food to fill the Salvation Army’s food pantry for roughly six months. The food pantry serves about 250 people a month.

Capt. Harold Gitau of the Harrisonburg Salvation Army said it appears the Berry family exceeded their goal.

“It’s a blessing,” he said. “What a way to start the year. The community continues to support us so much.”

About two dozen Harrisonburg police officers and Rockingham County sheriff’s deputies helped unload two school buses full of food.

Several community leaders also attended to show support during the unloading process.

Bridgewater Mayor Ted Flory said he was glad to see his town host the food drive this year.

“Bridgewater Foods has always been very community-minded,” he said, adding that he was also pleased to see many town residents donating food. “I’m not at all surprised to see Bridgewater residents step up.”

Harrisonburg Vice Mayor Sal Romero thanked the Berry family for their support for those suffering from food insecurity.

“More people are having to access food banks,” Romero said. “Resources are definitely more scarce. This came at a great time, when so many people are hungry.”

Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6267 or Follow Pete on Twitter @pdelea_DNR

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