Second Harvest drives a sweet deal

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KNOXVILLE (WVLT) -- If you have a sweet tooth for small heart-shaped candies, then one Knoxville charity has a deal for you.

Second Harvest Food Bank wants to feed hungry families throughout East Tennessee.

So with Valentines Day just around the corner, they have teamed up with a downtown retailer to boost their donation levels from heart breaking to heart warming.

"For every pound of candy that we sell at the Mast General Store this weekend, we're going to donate a dollar to Second Harvest Food Bank," said Michael Johnson, Mast's general manager.

The drive is called "Be a Sweetheart, Help the Hungry," and seemed like a natural partnership between the two.

"Candy's a real popular Valentines Day gift," Johnson said. "That's why we picked the Valentines Day holiday to do this."

Janice Craig was out indulging her own sweet tooth on at Mast General on Saturday morning.

"I can be thinking 'I've done something worthwhile, instead of just adding a lot of sugar to my body,” she said, while picking out sweets.

The formula for donations is an easy one.

Mast calculates the total weight of all candy sold, and donates a dollar for each pound.

"So if you just buy 3 or 4 four pieces, that adds to it,” Johnson said. “It's an accumulation."

The drive couldn’t come at a better and more ironic time, because the heart shaped candies are what will be making up for what Second Harvest says are heartbreaking donation levels.

According to the charity, donations are down 40 percent this year, so much so that they're spending as much as $120,000 a month just to keep food on the shelves."

"We annually feed 110,000 to 120,000 thousand people a month in our 18 county service area," said Elaine Machiela from Second Harvest. "This is the time of year we need the support, because donations do go down."

Meanwhile, all the good will might soon give Janice a bellyache, but she is happy to do her part.

"As I'm getting all these calories, it'll make me feel a lot better," she said.

The sweet-sale runs through Sunday.

Second Harvest also got some love from Boy Scouts of America as local scout troops held their annual food drive weekend.

Last year, scouts collected enough food for 5,500 meals, and this year they hoped to double it.

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