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Smyrna Town Manager Brian D. Hercules (left) and Mayor Mary Esther Reed show some of the 82,000 items collected during the town’s Christmas Parade. SUBMITTED

Early in the Town of Smyrna’s planning for the 2019 Christmas Parade, organizers had big plans for the community event. Smyrna and its citizens delivered. 

The parade was larger than last year’s and for the fifth year in a row collected more non-perishable food for the Nourish Food Bank, with a total of more than 122,000 food items. 

Parading participants were asked to contribute food as an “entry fee” and parade viewers were also asked to donate non-perishable food, according to the Town of Smyrna Christmas Parade volunteer coordinator Jill Strange. 

Mayor Mary Esther Reed and Town Manager Brian Hercules challenged each other’s “teams” to contribute more than the other, with all the fervor of a high school sports rivalry. The Smyrna Fire Department collected non-perishable food as well. 

The effort of the “Town of Smyrna Christmas Parade Food Drive,” active since 2015, and the “Smyrna Fire Fighters for Food Drive,” active since 2002, certainly paid off this year. At last count, 122,933 non-perishable food items were collected for the Nourish Food Bank. 

The Mayor-Manager Town of Smyrna Christmas Parade Food Drive rivalry garnered 82,384 items, shattering the previous year’s record of 22,872. 

The Smyrna Fire Department’s Fire Fighters for Food Drive, led by the department’s Lt. Burt Wilson since its inception, collected 40,459 food items this year, eclipsing their collection of 34,000 items last year. 

The ultimate non-perishable food item goal was to exceed the Nourish Food Bank’s non-perishable food needs for a full year. Last year’s non-perishable food collections from the Town of Smyrna and the Smyrna Fire Department carried Nourish Food Bank through August. 

“We appreciate the trust our citizens place in us to serve and protect them every day,” Smyrna Fire Department Chief Bill Culbertson said. “SFD personnel believe that part of that commitment to serve includes doing our part to make sure all of our citizens have enough to eat.” 

 “We knew we could grow this effort,” Reed said. “Providing an opportunity for parade spectators to help their neighbors resonated with our community. This connectedness is what makes Smyrna so special.”

“Our entire community is the beneficiary of both food drives,” Hercules said. “No family should experience hunger or food insecurity. On behalf of the Town of Smyrna, I would like to extend a heart-felt thank you to everyone who donated this year.”

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