DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – Barrels of Love will soon make it to food pantries and local schools in need. For the eleventh year, volunteers were on hand to help collect and process non-perishable food donations.

Companies from across the Decatur-Morgan County area joined the effort of Barrels of Love to collect non-perishable food items for the Salvation Army of Decatur, the Committee on Church Cooperation and the Backpack feeding programs at Decatur City and Morgan County Schools.

Students from Danville High School received school credit for helping pack boxes. One student says helping those in need meant a lot to her.

“My dad used to work at UPS and he like changed jobs and went out on a limb and his income isn’t set but he ended up, you know, succeeding. And you know I always think like we could have been in the polar opposite area than where we are now. And so it really matters to me to help those people and affect their lives because I know that my life could have very easily been theirs,” said DHS student Lillie Kate Eddy.

The biggest benefit of Tuesday’s food collection is that the needs of the people in the Decatur-Morgan County area will be met, whether they are at local schools or food pantries.

“Things like Barrels of Love have an amazing impact on helping to ensure that we’re able to stretch the money that is given to us far enough to make the impact we need to make. In the past several years, the need for our services has increased so substantially. When I started in 2020, we maybe saw 3,000 families a year and this year we are expected to surpass 11,000,” said Ashley Boyd with Barrels of Love to News 19.

Now, organizers say they hope the kids who participated will realize that those in need don’t always look like they think.

“I hope it makes them realize that there are kids and they go to school with them and may not know it that go home and don’t have a lot to eat. And so I hope it inspires them to think about others think about community and what you can do to give back,” said Donna Sawyer, Barrels of Love Chair.

The Decatur City Council has been reportedly reluctant to fund homeless advocacy groups despite the growing homeless population. Instead, they moved to give $600,000 this year to help fund additional beds for mental health facilities. They also say they’ve hired a mental health liaison for the police department.