OGDEN -- Officials and volunteers took time Tuesday to celebrate after more than 17,000 pounds of food was raised during February for the Catholic Community Services Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank.
The nonperishable donations were collected during the "Who's Got the Biggest Heart?" food drive.
"This was our first event," said Marcie Valdez, director of Northern Utah Catholic Community Services. "It was a last-minute thing. We are so proud of you who stepped up and made things happen."
All participants were recognized alongside the winners at a social held at the food bank.
Each received a special "trophy" of a can with a label recognizing them for their efforts.
Bank of Utah finished first among the banks, with 2,052 pounds of food.
Accepting the honor was Bank of Utah President Doug DeFries, who handed over a donation of $500 to the food bank in exchange for his bank's award.
Zions Bank contributed 273 pounds of nonperishables.
The winner of the hospital competition was McKay-Dee Hospital with 1,671 pounds of food. Ogden Regional Medical Center collected 1,257 pounds.
Ogden School District was the top collecting district with 3,576 pounds of food. The No. 1 school there was Polk Elementary with 886 pounds.
"I have to say, it's the littlest people that make a difference," Valdez said. "(Polk Elementary) also helped out during our holiday food drive."
Of the 1,282 pounds collected by Weber School District, 1,262 pounds was collected by Midland Elementary School.
But the big story there was about a single student, fifth-grader Preston Rawlings, who brought 408 of the school's 1,560 items collected, said Dianna Spatig, Midland Elementary school counselor.
"Our peer leaders had great ideas," she said. "We doubled our numbers for Tootsie Rolls."
Also honored were "The Rest of Us," those individuals who made their own contributions.
At three locations, individuals contributed 1,952 pounds of nonperishable foods.
"I'm thinking just how amazing it is to me, that when word goes out in the community that there is a need -- and we get the response from the community," Valdez said.
She also took the opportunity to honor groups for their ongoing support of the food bank.
Those groups included St. Joseph's Elementary School, for raising 5,423 pounds of food during this year's "Super Bowl of Caring."
Also honored was the Black Island Farms Food Co-op for its 7,668 pounds of fresh produce donations last year.
Alan Kapp was honored for 12,500 pounds of food he grew himself last year for the organization.
United Way of Northern Utah received recognition for holiday donations of 450 turkeys.
St. Benedict's Foundation was recognized for donations to the Catholic Community Services baby project and various other efforts to support the facility during the year.
Valdez said 26 percent of the food that workers give out at the food bank comes from local food drives.
She said the facility assists 1,500 families a month. Each receives about 150 pounds of food, valued at about $200 to $300.
Utah Catholic Community Services Executive Director Brad Drake took the opportunity to direct his comments to the schoolchildren who were present.
He told them they can make a difference in the world, even as individuals.
To illustrate this point, Drake told of Telemachus, a holy man in Roman times, who single-handedly brought an end to gladiator games when he stood between two gladiators who were in the act of fighting to the death.
In the process of trying to stop the men from fighting, Drake said, the holy man was killed. But in so doing, he got the attention of the Roman spectators, who lost their interest in the death games.
"We thank you young people," Drake said of the elementary school-aged children. "We hope you can project this into the future. We all may become a Telemachus in our own way."