The United Way of Lee County kicked off its annual campaign by packing 20,000 meal kits for local people in need.

The United Way of Lee County supports 25 local agencies in the area through support and funding.

“United Way does so many great things for our county,” said EMA Director Rita Smith, who brought her team to the event to help pack bags. “They are phenomenal. They do a lot of great things to help a lot of agencies, a lot of individuals, a lot of people.”

Each year it holds an annual campaign from August through December, but the food packing event was a first.

The United Way of Lee County partnered with Numana to package the 20,000 meal bags at the Food Bank of East Alabama.

The meal bags each contained rice, a soy protein, freeze-dried pinto beans and vitamins and minerals.

Director of the Food Bank of East Alabama Martha Henk said the food bank was glad to participate, have volunteers in their building and be able to pack food for those in need.

“We’re very proud to be able to be the site for this event,” Henk said. “We feel privileged that United Way asked us to be the host. We see it as just a complete win-win all the way around. So, we want to support United Way in their campaign that benefits a whole lot of agencies, including the Food Bank. So we want to have a very successful campaign. But, also we’re delighted to have a great supply of food.”

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said he attended the event in support of both United Way and the food bank.

“They are serving so many people,” he said. “There is such a need for organizations that make sure that people that are food insecure are able to put a meal on the table.”

The food packing event, sponsored by the Industrial Development Board of the city of Auburn, was the official campaign kickoff and United Way of Lee County hopes to raise $925,000.

The campaign began Aug. 4 and will run through Dec. 15, with different events throughout, including the Boo Box Sale, ‘Lead the Way Wednesday’ and Santa on the Corner.

“The mission of the United Way includes ‘increasing the organized capacity of people to care for one another,’ and I Feel like today was an example of how we work to fulfill that goal,” said Leigh Krehling, campaign chair for the United Way, in a press release from United Way. “Seeing everyone working so enthusiastically today was incredible. I see a community energized and ready to show up for the families in need of a helping hand this year.”

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