NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa - At the North Liberty Community Pantry, even a few cents can make a difference. So imagine what $5,000 could do.
"The standard number is $2 per meal, so if you figure, 2,500 meals can easily be provided with $5,000," said the pantry's executive director, Tina DuBois, on Saturday.
That was the goal that Forever Green Nursery owner Lucy Hershberger set when she picked the pantry as the organization to be supported for this year's In Community donation drive. As with every year, she invited a handful of other businesses - about 10 - to chip in. But the effort grew even faster than she expected it to.
"The more businesses we asked, the more people got involved," Hershberger said. "We're now up to close to 30, with a goal of $5,000, that, as of Wednesday afternoon, we had already met."
Hershberger said photographer Jeanna Hegewald, owner of Portraits by Jeanna, helped get the ball rolling, pledging to give back $10 from every holiday photo session at the nursery.
"It's just amazing, and it gives you such faith in your community. This community has blessed me so much since I moved my studio here, about two years ago," said Hegewald.
DuBois said the help is more than welcome.
"In October of this year, we had 837 visits, which is significantly more than we've ever had before, so the need is definitely increasing," DuBois explained
Even after surpassing their goal, Hershberger and Hegewald say they'll keep raising through Christmas time, and beyond.
"Oh yeah," smiled Hegewald, camera in hand, "I think we have a tradition on our hands."