It seems more than ever, more and more of our neighbors are hurting financially.
A lot of people are being forced to stretch their dollars just to put food on the table or run their air conditioner to cool down a sweltering house, but one man works tirelessly to put food on the table of those in need.
In the midst of a blur of activity, Kevin Martin is the calm in the storm.
"I've got 23 drivers I manage. They cover a 26-county area and travel about 450,000 miles a year," he said.
Martin helps manage the dizzying distribution of tons of food.
"They're bringing in almost 40 million pounds of food, which we in turn distribute back out," he said.
Martin is the transportation manager for Harvesters, which is the area's only food bank. The food shipped to the massive warehouse at 38th Street and Topping Avenue will then be distributed to more than 600 local nonprofit agencies to help feed the hungry.
"I've always had a servant heart, a heart to help people," Martin said. "It's my passion, but I never had an idea of what hunger was until I came here."
But working at Harvesters is just his day job. On many Saturdays, he really rolls up his sleeves. Realizing that hunger doesn't have a specific zip code, Martin discovered a real need in the Northland and single-handedly organized a food giveaway. With the help of friends and volunteers, it has morphed into so much more.
"We do a clothing giveaway every month," Martin said. "Currently we have an optometrist that comes in and gives free eye exams. I have a friend who cuts hair. We got this big slide the kids get to plays on while their parents are waiting to get food."
Martin said the idea is to help the families stretch their dollar and, considering all the benefits being offered, it's working.
"A majority of the people coming through aren't unemployed, aren't the homeless. It's people who have income, they just don't have enough to make it to the end of the month," he said.
At the last giveaway, more than 300 families showed up. Martin said it's the looks on the kids' faces he remembers when he goes home after a giveaway, and the stories he hears from parents.
Once, they gave away free cakes.
"And this lady came through the line and started crying, and we said, ‘What's wrong?' She said, ‘Tomorrow is my son's birthday, and he wouldn't have got a cake if it wasn't for this,'" Martin said.
The next giveaway is July 28 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Vineyard Church in north Kansas City. Martin said if anyone needs immediate food assistance, they can go to Harvesters.org. Once there, they can type in their zip code, and it will show where the nearest food pantry is.
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