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Dec 29, 2013 12:29 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Winterhaven donations might beat last year

TUCSON - This year's Winterhaven Festival of lights might have raised more donations to the Community Food Bank than last year.

As of December 20, visitors donated 27,000 pounds of food, according to the Food Bank's transportation director, George Fahrman. The 2012 festival received about 34,000 pounds. He did not have an estimate on cash donations.

Fahrman has worked at the Food Bank for 13 years.

"I like doing it," he said. "Every time you show up, people are always happy to see you. Whether you're picking up food, they're happy to see you. Or you're dropping off food, they're happy to see you. It's a pretty good job."

The Food Bank needs to transport tons of product across Pima and Santa Cruz Counties. It provides the equivalent of 62,800 meals a day, according to its website.

Winterhaven visitors realize their community needs help.

"I've been in that spot already," Lefty Snyder said. "So I know how they feel. If you've ever been hungry, you'll know."

The past 12 months, 18 percent of Tucson residents received SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, according to the most recent Census Bureau data.

"I think everybody should contribute something for the holidays," John Esposito said. "And not only the holidays, all year round."

Traffic was backed up around the neighborhood, even though the festival ended 3 days after Christmas.

"I don't mind," Esposito said. "I still have the Christmas spirit."

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