From AIO Food and Energy Assistance
On Monday, January 18, 2021 AIO Food and Energy Assistance hosted its first FILL THE STRAND food and funds drive to benefit AIO’s Food Assistance, Energy Assistance and Weekend Meal Programs. The day was significant as a national day of service, honoring Martin Luther King Jr. The goal was to fill every seat in the theater with a bag of food or funds for food; with the overwhelming support from the community AIO was able to fill the theater three times!
The event was a wonderful collaboration with the Strand Theatre and Allen Insurance and Financial, which provided an opportunity for the community to connect and participate, in a meaningful, but safe way. The Strand Theatre had the door open and the lights turned on for one of only a few times in the last ten months. “While the pandemic has temporarily closed the doors to the theater, the work of the Strand carries on in new and creative ways–and this effort was no exception,” shares Jessie Davis, Executive Director of the Strand. “As a community mainstay, it made absolute sense for the Strand to partner with other deeply-rooted community institutions, AIO & Allen Insurance and Financial, to provide an extra lift to our friends and neighbors in these difficult times!”
Allen Insurance and Financial employees were on hand to help greet, collect, and sort incoming food donations. The goal The generosity of the community has been remarkable- with more than 2000 pounds of food collected, sorted and integrated into AIO’s market by the end of the day. More than $27,000 in financial donations were raised, which together with the food collected will go directly to AIO’s programs that support Knox County families. All together more than 245 people or organizations contributed to Fill the Strand’s success.
Liz Jenkins, AIO Board President shares, “We are amazed by the day and the show of support from all corners of the community, especially our partners. I think that we have all been craving an opportunity to “do” something, something meaningful and joyful outside of our own walls, during a year when we’ve been at home so much. Leila Murphy brought this idea to me a year ago, and while we had to pause plans last spring, when Wendy Bryd from Allen Insurance and Financial contacted me in the late fall about a team project, the stars aligned. Our AIO Weekend Meal program manager, Molly O’Rourke, is a professional events planner so she rounded out our planning team beautifully.
I’m grateful to Leila and Molly for coordinating the event, and to everyone who supported the event-whether donor, volunteer or cheerleader. Thank you. The good energy and the excitement around the event was infectious. We certainly hope to do it again!”
“We’re grateful we could play a part in a very special day − one that showed our community at its best,” said Mike Pierce, president of Allen Insurance and Financial. Allen Insurance and Financial, was a collection site in the weeks leading up to the event, in addition to having a team of volunteers on the day of the event. Main Street Market also served as a collection site.