After a monthlong food drive, a line of pickups and one semi-truck pulled out of the parking lot of Yoke's Fresh Market in West Richland on Thursday.
Each was loaded with groceries bound for area food banks.
Donations to the ninth annual event came from the car dealers of the Pasco Autoplex, students and staff at Tri-Cities Prep High School, and employees and customers of area Yoke's stores.
The car dealers raised money for the event by donating a portion of each vehicle sale to the cause.
They then bought $12,540 worth of groceries from Yoke's at discounted prices to be donated to the drive, said Craig Cavanaugh, general sales manager at McCurley Integrity Auto Dealerships.
Students also competed to see which class could collect the most food. And Yoke's customers donated $5 to $10 at the checkout stands.
In all, the effort produced 23,500 pounds of food headed for five Tri-City food banks, Cavanaugh said.
Yoke's asked the food banks in advance to see which items they needed most, he said. Despite a sluggish economy, this year's total was one of the best.
And even last year, in the middle of the recession, donations barely dropped off.
"We thought it'd be a tough year in 2009, but we were surprised," Cavanaugh said. "People know that there are others out there who really rely on these donations."
* Jacques Von Lunen: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org