Spice Village, other local businesses prepare for Food for Families food drive

Spice village is collecting monetary donations for Food for Families in Waco. Will Barksdale | Multimedia Journalist

No visit to Waco is complete without climbing the steps to Spice Village, the hosting home of over 60 boutiques that sell clothes, jewelry, home décor and more. Spice has been a part of Waco for over 20 years, and for the past five has found a way to give back. Until Nov. 16, Spice is collecting monetary donations to help fill food pantries across Central Texas.

Spice will give all the funds to the Food for Families food drive, which is the largest one-day food drive in Texas, founded by KWTX, Channel 10 news station. Since its inception in 1990, Food for Families has stocked food pantries in nine counties with 25 million pounds of non-perishable items to keep Central Texans full for the holidays. This year’s event will take place on Nov. 17.

In past years, Spice hosted a one-night event to honor customers, and also raise funds for Food for Families. However, they decided that they could make a bigger impact by extending the fundraising time and not spending money on an event.

“Instead of writing a check, we said: Let’s get customers involved and see if we can make a difference by saying, ‘Would you like to donate one dollar?’” Spice’s marketing manager, Fawn Barlow said.

Whenever a customer checks out, the cashier will ask if they would like to donate to Food for Families. Barlow said this has increased camaraderie among the employees, increased donations for the food drive and increased customer interaction. Each of the 27 employees has the number of pounds they have raised written next to their picture on the wall, creating an incentive to be top of the leader board.

After just over a week of fundraising, Spice is 6,000 pounds into its 9,000-pound goal. Spice has committed to matching every dollar customers contribute.

In addition to Spice and KWTX, H-E-B Grocery Company, the Boy Scouts of America and Waco Scottish Rite will sponsor Food for Families this year.

Alex Thomson, the unit director of the Wooded Acres H-E-B said contributing to the community has been a part of H-E-B’s foundation, dating back to 1905 when founder Florence Butt would give away excess food at the end of the day to needy families.

Sixteen stores across Central Texas will provide customers with information about needed items, so that they can purchase and drop them off while shopping for their own groceries. In past years, H-E-B has generated over a quarter of a million pounds of food for donation.

KWTX collects donations, as well as providing coverage at 18 different sites on the collection day. Valerie Parker, community services director for KWTX, said that the whole news station gets involved in the effort.

“When we first created Food for Families many years ago, it was because we saw a need in the community,” Parker said. “Food pantries in the area were in a dire need to be able to help people who come to them for help.”

In 2016, KWTX received the Service to America Award from the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation as a result of Food for Families and other charitable works.

“It is our goal to use our platform to encourage people to give, expecting nothing in return,” vice president and general manager Mike Wright wrote. “The reward for us is the blessing we will never see, the one left in our wake.”

This year, Food for Families seeks to surpass the previous record of 1.8 million pounds collected. The donations stay local, so Spice’s contributions will aid Caritas, which in 2016 fed over 30,000 Waco families. Spice owner Jennifer Wilson wanted to contribute to the cause because it benefits fellow Wacoans during the holiday season.

“I knew it was going to go directly to this community,” Wilson said. “I love the sense of family around the table and eating. When I think of holidays, that’s what it means to me.”

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