DUGGER -- Only a month ago, Catholic Charities was considering abandoning efforts to stop and dispense food to needy families here.
Participation was down considerably -- enough that the Terre Haute-based charity's officials wondered whether its visits, already reduced to bimonthly stops, might need to end.
However, a push by local officials to gain numbers and improve participation brought nearly 90 families out to a make-or-break food distribution drive Nov. 12 at the Dugger Park Shelterhouse.
For the town to maintain regular visits from the Terre Haute-based assistance program, organizers said recipients' participation must be up significantly.
Organizers had hoped to bring around 30 recipients to the Nov. 12 distribution, the record shows.
They got those numbers -- and then some.
"There were over 80 families that received food," observed Terri Heaton. "The truck came full and left empty. The director said it was the largest crowd ever!"
Other volunteers concurred.
"We had a bunch of people show up," Town Councilman Kermit King said. "I counted around 75 cars."
Heaton added access to the distribution of monthly food allocations also imposes fewer requirements than many programs do.
There are no residency requirements, she said, and income levels are not checked.
"Out of those 80 or so families we had, probably less than half were from the Dugger area," Heaton noted. "But all in all, it was a help to those that came. And they will be back the second Monday in December."
Formal times on the Catholic Charities visit will be announced early next month, though Heaton said the group intends to keep returning monthly "as long as the numbers stay up."