CLINTON – Chris Streets, general manager of KCLN AM and MaC 94.7 FM radio, climbed into the back of a truck in front of Clinton’s Hy-Vee food store Monday morning to start the 20th annual Freezin’ for Food campaign.
Sponsored by Ashford University Clinton Campus, Freezin’ collects non-perishable food items and cash for local food pantries.
“Originally it was also to help draw some awareness to homelessness,” Streets said Monday. Over 15 years, he lived in the back of the truck for a week during the holiday season. He learned that parking lots in the middle of the night are cold and weird.
Now Streets limits his Freezin’ time to 12 hours a day – 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. He’ll be stationed at Hy-Vee, collecting food donations, through 3 p.m. Friday.
“Usually we’re right around 15,000 pounds [of food],” Streets said, though in some years donors have given more than 20,000 pounds.
Streets’ keys to handling the cold include wearing long underwear and dressing in layers. Hot drinks help, too. “Right now I’m drinking just a black coffee,” said Streets. It was a gift from Jim Proud, who stopped by with a bag a food for the Freezin’ truck.
The first 4 1/2 hours of a day are the worst, Streets said, because the sun is behind the building. He doesn’t suffer from cold as much when he can stand in the sun.
This year’s event is going to spoil him, Streets said. “The weather’s supposed to be in the mid-40s this week.”
Streets isn’t tired of the event yet. “To do something for 20 years is pretty exciting,” he said. The best part is giving the food to local organizations and hearing how much they need it and how many families they’ll be able to help with it.
The community has also not tired of Freezin’ for Food. Donations have not slowed after 20 years. Streets usually sees five or six bags the first day, but the truck contained many more than that after only four hours Monday.
Streets had more than $100 in cash donations Monday morning as well.
“The community’s very strong behind us,” Streets said.
The 20th Annual Freezin’ For Food will also be part of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train stop Saturday near the Sawmill Museum. The train is scheduled to pull in at 6:40 p.m. and the staff of MaC 94.7FM and AM 1390 KCLN will help the Lyons Business Professionals and the Clinton Convention and Visitor’s Bureau collect donations.