Somervell County Day 'can' deliver the goods

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GLEN ROSE -- One day each year, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center offers an amazing discount that benefits everyone.

It was the place to be Dec. 5, as Somervell County Day meant free admission to the Scenic Wildlife Drive for local residents or employees who donated just two nonperishable food items with all proceeds going to the Somervell County Food Bank (SCFB). Unlike previous years for the event, cars were lined up at the gate when it opened at 8:30 a.m. Seven hours later, the SCFB trailer was carrying a heavy load.

“This is our fourth year to team up with Fossil Rim, and this far exceeded previous years in terms of food items,” said Max Bly, SCFB director. “I think the direct mail piece Warren (Lewis, Fossil Rim marketing director) sent to every mailbox made a big difference. I also think the beautiful weather helped us collect possibly two-and-a-half times the amount from past Somervell County Days.

“This is the first time we’ve had the trailer for this and it’s full, which is outstanding. I believe it’s enough to at least fill five pickup beds.”

In terms of community impact, Bly said Somervell County Day is a top-10 annual event for SCFB.

“Food drives like this are great for us,” he said. “Fossil Rim has been a major supporter of our food bank. It’s a blessing, because we wouldn’t be the same without their support.”

Having stocked shelves is especially crucial for SCFB as the weather turns cold.

“Last month, we served 148 families,” Bly said. “In December, we’ll probably be closer to 160 families. People especially need items during the Christmas holiday.

“I expect the need to stay high through January. The food we collected (Saturday) will probably last us about a month.”

Dan Broyles, Fossil Rim volunteer and Santa Claus, posed for pictures with families throughout the day, as did Sara Paulsen, elf and fellow volunteer. Broyles handed out all 288 of his candy canes and said he needed at least 35 more. Fossil Rim hosted 338 cars on the day, as the majority of which arrived for Somervell County Day.

As for SCFB, Bly is thrilled to see its steady incline in recent years.

“This county owns our food bank,” he said. “We used to be in a 1950s house that we were tearing out walls in order to accommodate our needs and we had 17 smaller refrigeration units. Now, we are in a new building with a walk-in cooler and a walk-in freezer to go with our three commercial units. Because of our community support, we’re able to serve more families more economically and it’s much better, both for our clients and volunteers.”