Skeptics thought Aaron Hannah was embarking on “mission impossible” when he single-handedly launched Cans for a Cause, a project that he hoped would collect thousands of pounds of nonperishable food that River Cities Harvest would distribute to nonprofit agencies that feed the hungry. After all, Hannah, just 19 and a 2012 graduate of Raceland-Worthington High School, was planning to conduct his food drive in Ashland, a city where he had never lived and was not well known.
But those who doubted the drive would generate much food do not know Aaron Hannah. The Rev. Bob Sweeney, associate pastor of South Ashland United Metodist Church, said Hannah is one of those people, who “if he takes on something, he will see it through even if other people don’t get behind him. He doesn’t get discouraged and give up.”
Sweeney first met Hannah when he was pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Raceland. Since Hannah was not familiar with Ashland’s neighborhoods, he asked Sweeney to help him choose where to center his food drive.
The drive was modeled after one Hannah had helped with in Berea, where he is a Bonner Scholar at Berea College. He left grocery sacks on the front porches of more than a thousand homes on June 20 and returned on June 28 in hopes of finding many of those bags filled food.
So how did it go? Well, at last count Cans for a Cause had collected 4,740.8 pounds of canned goods, dry mixes, peanut butter and other non-perishable foods. Put another way, that’s 740 pounds more than two tons.
Although Hannah said he felt good about the effort, he is already thinking about how he can do it better next year.
“It was the first year, of course, we were going to hit a few bumps,” Hannah said. “I was very, very tired but I was very happy and satisfied to see River Cities Harvest get all this food ... and to know a 19-year-old kid can make a difference.”
Indeed he can. Hannah had help from friends and residents of the Ramey-Estep Home in collecting the food, but Cans for a Cause was essentially his own project. Net summer he hopes to have at lest twice as many grocery sacks to distribute and expand into neighborhoods in Russell, Flatwoods, Ironton and other communities.
River Cities Harvest director Terri Clark said the group’s supply of non-perishable goods was down to three cans before Hannah’s cans and boxes started coming in. “We’re absolutely thrilled Aaron had the vision to do this type of food drive,” Clark said, adding her appreciation for volunteers from the community as well as workers from the Ramey-Estep Home who helped collect, sort and weigh the foods.
Anyone who thinks all teenagers are lazy and self-centered needs to meet Aaron Hannah. He’s mature, outgoing and willing to work hard to accomplish his goals. He represents the best of today’s young people. We commend him for his efforts.
And, speaking of food drives, the Ashland Breakfast Kiwanis Club will be at the riverfront tonight collecting food and money for River Cities Harvest. All food and donations help feed the hungry. This is the 19th consecutive year the club has done this project.