Food drive thanks local veterans

T-R PHOTOS BY TREVOR BABCOCK — Friends, family, American Legion Riders and the Marshall County Veterans Affair’s Office all helped hand out boxes of food and supplies Saturday afternoon at a food drive for veterans in Marshalltown.

Local veterans received upwards of $15,000 worth of food and household items at a food drive serving 150 families.

Cars cruised into the First Presbyterian Church parking lot on South Center St. in Marshalltown on Saturday to receive boxes filled with pork chops, bacon, hamburger, produce, bread, canned food, hygiene products and more.

Organized by Marshalltown woman Nicki Johnson, the event was meant to simply give thanks for the service of veterans.

“A few weeks ago, a veteran came up to me and asked me if there was anything or anybody I knew of that could help them. They were running tight financially, (and) their biggest hardship at that moment was food for their house,” Johnson said. “In the past, I’ve helped with donations and worked different fundraisers for veterans, and I said, ‘Give me some time. I’ll see what I can do.'”

As a part of an eight generation family of veterans, Johnson said making sure they are taken care of is a passion of hers.

Nicki Johnson hands food and supplies to a local veteran on Saturday afternoon at a food drive she helped organize.

“I cannot serve, but this is my way of serving,” Johnson said. “Veteran status is very, very important to me. It always has, and it always will be.”

The first person she called was Marshall County Veteran’s Affairs Director Kevin Huseboe, which led to the local American Legion Riders and Veterans Affairs office becoming sponsors for the event.

A community sign up in order to receive items and also verify veteran status began, posted at the Veteran’s Affairs office, American Legion, Marshalltown VFW, Marshalltown VA Clinic and online.

“The words ‘in-need’ never came in it,” Huseboe said. “It’s mainly a thank you for their service. It’s not for a need. It’s a thank you for them serving. If they felt like they really didn’t need it, they probably knew a friend or a family member or relative who could utilize it.”

The goal began at serving 100 households, but as supplies, donations came in and sign-ups came in, they were able to raise their goal to 150 households which was met.

“We’re coming into the holidays, and everybody goes shopping. And prices have just gone through the roof,” Juseboe said. “It tides them over through the holidays, so everybody gets taken care of.”

Food drop boxes at the Family Dollar and Hy-Vee in Marshalltown, plus personal donations of cash and items made reaching the goal possible. Johnson said it took at least four days of shopping to purchase all the needed items with the money raised. JBS Marshalltown, JBS Ottumwa, KwikStar, Casey’s and more also provided items for veterans at the food drive.

Johnson said she has learned a lot from organizing the food drive, such as communication skills from working with various sponsors and donors.

“I’m a shy person until I get to know someone, so this was all out of my comfort zone,” Johnson said. “Usually I’m one of the helpers, and this time I’m the leader. So it’s been a challenge for me personally, but I’m ready to do it again in a heartbeat.”


Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or



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