Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

First responders in 'Battle of the Badges' to collect food for needy

Three local first responders are sending out All Points Bulletins urging residents of Henderson County to join their efforts to win the first ever ‘Battle of the Badges Food Drive for IAM’ during the month of September.

The competition between the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Hendersonville Fire Department and the Hendersonville Police Department is taking place throughout the month of September, traditionally one of the slowest months of the year for donations to IAM. All of the donations will help IAM keep its food pantry stocked with nutritious foods to prevent hunger and food insecurity in Henderson County, said Elizabeth Willson Moss, IAM’s Executive Director.

“Our first responders go above and beyond every day to keep our community safe,” said Moss. “Now they are helping respond to the growing need for food to help struggling families feed their children and stay well-nourished. They are the definition of heroes.”

The goal is to collect at least 5,000 pounds of food between the three departments by the end of September, said Ernest Brown, IAM’s Pantry Manager who came up with the idea. Each of the agencies readily enlisted in the effort, Brown added.

“During the Battle of the Badges Food Drive event against our friends and fellow first responders from the Hendersonville Fire Department and Hendersonville Police Department, I want to encourage our community to come together, contribute and make a real difference in the lives of those served and cared for by Interfaith Assistance Ministry,” said Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin.

In 2018, IAM provided crisis services, including food, to 12,754 adults and children. Of those assisted, 52% only sought assistance one time.

Hendersonville’s Fire Department was excited to join the ‘Battle of the Badges” to help IAM provide food and other supplies to local residents who need assistance, said Fire Chief Joseph Vindigni.

“We strive to improve the quality of life for our residents and helping meet basic needs through this drive is another way we can serve our community,” Chief Vindigni said.

Ernest Brown, IAM’s Pantry Manager who came up with the friendly competition, said Henderson County’s first responders didn’t hesitate to enlist in the effort. The goal is to collect at least 5,000 pounds of food between the three departments, Brown said.

Hendersonville Police Chief Herbert Blake emphasized how seriously his department plans to compete to help reach the 5,000 pounds goal.

“We are in strict competition against the Hendersonville Fire Department and the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department,” said Chief Blake.

IAM’s crisis services increased 30% last year and 2019 data shows the county’s largest crisis services nonprofit is on track for another large year-end increase, Moss said. No one in our community should be hungry, she added.

“IAM is extremely grateful, and honored, to be supported in such a significant and compassionate way by our first responders,” Moss said.

Any nonperishable foods can be donated to the food drive. The biggest needs in IAM’s pantry are canned meats and tuna, instant oatmeal and grits, canned fruits and vegetables, regular ground coffee and fruit juice boxes.

Here are the three locations where you can drop off food donations:

· Henderson County Sheriff’s Office,100 Grove St.

· Hendersonville Fire Department, 632 Sugarloaf Road

· Hendersonville Police Department, 145 Fifth Avenue East

The Battle of the Badges top food donator will be announced as soon as all of the food is delivered to IAM and weighed – hopefully in early October, Moss said.

IAM’s third annual holiday food drive, created to provide every family who seeks assistance in November and December with a holiday meal of turkey or ham and side dishes. In 2018, IAM provided food to 9,840 individuals and complete holiday meals to 1,489 families. More than 350 volunteers help IAM serve our neighbors in great need.