Published: Sep 22, 2010 7:39 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 22, 2010 4:39 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - LeeTran's 2nd annual food drive on Sunday, Sept. 19 collected 72,273 pounds of food and $3,043.58 in cash for the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida. The cash donations will enable the food bank to distribute an additional $18,000 of food to those in need.

More than 120 volunteers worked at 33 Publix locations in Lee County for five hours, filling LeeTran's vehicles with donated food. At 4 p.m., the vehicles delivered their cargo to the food bank's warehouse, where dozens more volunteers unloaded them.

Publix stores had been collecting food donations for several weeks before the one-day drive, which helped LeeTran exceed last year's total by 46%.

"The timing of this food drive is very important to us," said Al Brislain, executive director of the Harry Chapin Food Bank. "We had distributed all of the food from the letter carriers' drive last May, and faced a couple of lean months. This new supply will carry us through to the holidays."

In addition to LeeTran employees, this year's drive included volunteers from other Lee County government departments, local service groups, and high school and college students.

"We'd like to thank our hard-working volunteers who collected and loaded more than 36 tons of food in five hours," said Transit Director Steve Myers. "We were also touched by the generosity of the people that we met on Sunday. Almost everyone was familiar with the contribution that the food bank makes to our community, and was glad to help."

The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida feeds more than 30,000 people each week through its network of 170 member agencies. LeeTran (Lee County Transit) is a department of Lee County government, providing public transportation services to the community.