TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Rainy winter weather is partly to blame for the Community Food Bank expecting to collect roughly half the amount of donations at Winterhaven Festival of Lights this year.
Special Events Manager Lou Medran said Saturday that the totals after the first week were about 50% of where they were at the same time last year. He attributes the drop in donations to a few cold, wet nights when less people likely toured the neighborhood. He estimates the giving will stay steady, but still be roughly half of the 43,336 pounds of food and $18,000 collected in 2013.
"When you come up short like that it does put you in a tight spot," said Medran. "But all that means is you have to give it a little extra effort in the new year to keep the food drives going strong."
Carl Falwell, visiting Winterhaven for the first time Saturday night, dropped a few dollars in the donation bucket. He said he always tries to give something when he sees the organization.
"When I first moved down to Arizona in general, I didn't have a whole lot of money so my only outreach was the food banks," said Falwell.
The Festival of Lights is one of Community Food Banks biggest donation drives, according to Medran. He expected a large turnout Saturday because it's the year's only chance for visitors to drive through the neighborhood and he said they always do well in donations on driving nights.
It was also Patricia Romo's first time seeing the lights and she didn't show up empty-handed either. With her family nearby, Romo handed a bag full of food to a volunteer at the entrance.
"It's important to give back for people in need," she said.
Ismael Pride and his family dropped off a donation bag as well. He said it's important to help other when you can because you never know when you'll need some help yourself.
"That's why we give," he said. "That way other people can have food and enjoy. Bring someone a smile."
The estimated reduction in donations won't stop the Community Food Bank from delivering smiles, according to Medran. He said those in need will be help, and volunteers will just need to work a little harder.
"We know we have enough food to give to the folks who are going to need it," he said. "But going into the new year we want to make sure we stay stocked because it goes very quickly."
The food bank accepts donations year-round, but will match any monetary donations through the rest of December.