MERIDIAN-- Idaho Gives is a huge day of charitable giving in the state of Idaho. The event is all day May 4, 2017 from midnight Mountain Time to 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. It's your chance to choose a charity to support and donate online. Hundreds of nonprofits are listed on the Idaho Gives website.
One of them is the Meridian Food Bank. It started small with just one man who saw a need. It is now pretty big with dozens and dozens of volunteers helping to meet the needs of thousands of people every month.
Billy Morton is a veteran who is now disabled.
"I fell out of a tree six years ago," Morton said. "I can no longer work. I broke my neck.
Morton says he comes to the Meridian Food Bank when he needs a little help to make ends meet.
"I live just up the road, and if it wasn't for this place it would be really tough to make it. It would," said Morton. "I mean these people are a godsend."
The pantry provides canned, fresh and frozen food to about a thousand people every week; people from across the Treasure Valley, not only Meridian. It operates on a simple philosophy.
"Hungry people need food, and we're here to give them food. Simple as that," said Meridian Food Bank Executive Director Dan Clark.
Clark started the food bank in 1999. It was a one-man operation.
"The first load came from the back of my car," said Clark.
Now 18 years later about 150 volunteers give their time to make sure food gets to those who need it. They handed out more than a million pounds in 2016.
"When I first started I didn't realize how big the need really was," said volunteer Cindy Bell.
Bell has volunteered here for about five years.
"It's just a great program to help the community that really needs the extra help on the food," said Bell.
Vaughn Barson volunteers every Monday. He helps the clients at the front counter.
"It's very valuable, wonderful," said Barson. "I've been here long enough that people kind of get to know me, and it's pretty nice."
The Meridian Food Bank is 100 percent volunteer. No one gets paid.
Billy Morton says all those volunteers make this a comfortable place to come when he needs to fill his cupboards.
"They don't make me feel small. They make me feel like a human being," said Morton. "I mean, you walk in and look at them, they're all smiling. They're helping out, you know."
Morton is taking a loaded grocery cart home on this day knowing he can come back in a couple weeks to fill another if he needs to.
"Every little bit helps. It does," said Morton.
The Meridian Food Bank also runs the backpack program for kids in need. It gives about 600 kids in the West Ada School District a backpack full of food every weekend to make sure they have meals for those two days.
For more information or to make a donation to your charity of choice, go to this link.