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Georgia Mountain Food Bank collects 25K pounds of food
Frank Spalletti of Wrigley packages a box of food Tuesday for the Georgia Mountain Food Bank in Flowery Branch. The food bank has collected 25,000 pounds of food through local food drives to distribute to families in need this holiday season. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Although many people would rather jump into bed after working a late-night shift at work, Frank Spalletti chose to clock-in for a different job - one that he doesn't get paid for.

Like dozens of other volunteers, Spalletti showed up bright and early Tuesday morning to help sort food donations for the Georgia Mountain Food Bank.

"When you think about one in six kids going to bed hungry, that is really such a shame," said Spalletti, a Flowery Branch resident. "I just want to do what I can to help."

Like some of his Wrigley co-workers, Spalletti only had to cross the street to reach the current home of the food bank at Hollis Transport in Flowery Branch.

Other community members - including students from Flowery Branch High School - also came out to help.

Hollis allows food bank officials to run their operations from its facility on Cantrell Road in Flowery Branch.

"They have been so good to us," said Kay Blackstock, food bank executive director.

"They've made it possible for us to operate when we don't have our own facility."

The food bank is in the process of raising money to build a permanent home.

During the morning and early afternoon Tuesday, dozens of volunteers were busy sorting through the more than 25,000 pounds of donated food that has been collected on the organization's behalf.

"The local high schools, scout troops and businesses have really been doing a fantastic job collecting things for us during their holiday food drives," Blackstock said.

"North Hall High School alone collected around 2,500 pounds of food during their food drive."

Linda Whitfield, who owns Papa John's restaurants in Hall and Forsyth counties, collected 3,000 pounds of food for the organization, Blackstock said. In turn, the food bank will distribute that same amount of goods to needy families in those areas.

"The communities donated food to support families in their community, so we want to make sure that same amount of food goes back to them," Blackstock said.

After collecting donated supplies, the food bank distributes the food to organizations in its coverage area - Hall, Dawson, Union, Forsyth and Lumpkin counties.

"We have been very well blessed this year," Blackstock said.

"Well over 2 million pounds of food has been distributed to our coverage area."

Hollis employees who have watched the supplies and volunteers for the food bank come in and out have one word to describe the stream of support - "overwhelming."

"It's just amazing to see how much food is collected with the food drives. A lot of people want to give. This community has been very blessed," said Dennis Reeves Jr., Hollis operations manager.

"I've been seeing more moms and dads coming in with their children - teaching them what it means to give back. That's really great to see."