The Food For Families food drive motivates Central Texans of all ages to contribute and volunteer

Family-Friendly Food With data still being counted, 2022 is already a record-breaking year, and days later, we’re learning even more tales about the individuals behind the effort that made it such a huge success.

Merri Zilka, 73, a lifelong Speegleville native who now resides in Alvarado, has been showing up at the KWTX drop-off spot for a decade with a generous $10,000 check in hand.

She claims she does it year after year because she previously received assistance from a food pantry.

“I remember when I was young and had my kids, we had some tough times at first and I got help, and now I’m able to help others, so I do,” Merri explained.

Merri stated that contributing makes her feel good, and that it is a feeling that anybody may enjoy regardless of how large or little their gift is.

“Whatever you can do is fine,” Merri said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a dollar or ten thousand dollars. It doesn’t matter. The thing is to actually give.”

Mariah McBride, 13, attends McGregor Junior High School. She began saving change three years ago in order to aid others in need.

“I would see people on the side of the streets, and I was just like thinking I should start saving money to help them so that others could have food,” she said.

Mariah emptied two full piggy banks, totaling $123.

People contributed more than just money to make the largest one-day food drive in Texas a success.

Hundreds of people, including high school sports, organizations, bands, Boy Scouts, Masons, corporations, and individuals, offered their time at donation sites.

29-year-old Terry, who has developmental difficulties, visits Food For Families at the KWTX Waco facility every year. He parked his wheelchair next to his mother’s table and spends hours sorting food.

Whitney 11-year-old twins Ian and Cole Watson joined the Masons and were put to work.

They spent the morning loading contributions into supermarket carts, rolling them across the scale to acquire a weight, and then sorting them for local food banks.

“I like helping people,” Cole said. “I like helping people in need that need food and everything.”

The total as of Monday was 2.83 million pounds, shattering all previous Food for Families records, and donations are still being counted.