HALLSVILLE — Between a field full of souped-up automobiles and an industrial-size barbecue smoker, Kate Driskill minded a glass jug, shook hands and gave hugs.
She and her husband, Don, hosted their fourth annual fundraising car show and luncheon Sunday in Hallsville to support the The Food Bank for Northeast & Central Missouri’s Buddy Pack program. It sends 6,700 economically disadvantaged, elementary-age schoolchildren home each week with shopping bags full of nutritious, kid-friendly food, according to the food bank’s website.
The jug, labeled “Donations” in big block print, was easy to miss with a crowd around it. Nearly 250 people filled the Driskills’ spacious yard and barn off Route V to support the Buddy Pack cause and gaze at 48 cars and four racing tractors. One neighbor even brought a helicopter. Another brought a boat. The event raised $5,199.
“I wish you all could see firsthand what your dollars do for the kids in our community,” Kena Forbis, head of the Hallsville school district’s Buddy Pack effort, told the gathering.
The Driskills began supporting the program five years ago when Kate saw gloves and mittens for sale at a 90 percent discount and purchased them to donate to the school system, she said. A guidance counselor referred her to the food bank, where she learned about Buddy Packs.
“I told Don, ‘We have to get involved,’” she said.
The two started going to the supermarket once a month to purchase food to contribute to the program and decided they wanted to get their friends involved, too.
A year later, Don and pal Brice Cottle of Hallsville floated the idea of a fundraising car show while tinkering with an engine in Driskill’s shop.
“Donny and Kate just took it and ran,” Cottle said. “From a couple guys in a garage kicking it around, to this.”
The first show featured a dozen cars, most of which Don worked on in his spare time, and raised $1,000, his wife said.
By 2013, 150 people showed up on a rainy day and donated $4,300, Kate Driskill said.
It takes $180 to provide one student with a Buddy Pack each week for one school year, Forbis said.
“When it’s your neighbors, you don’t think that hunger can be a possibility,” said Forbis, who taught kindergarten and first grade in Hallsville for 12 years. “Hungry kids can’t learn.”
Forbis said the food bank often uses excess revenue from fundraisers like this to send food home over long weekends, provide holiday dinners to families in need and winter coats and mittens to children without them.
The Driskills donated extra gloves to put under the school Christmas tree last year so needy students could have them as a holiday present.
“Hallsville is a great, supportive community,” Forbis said, “but Kate and Don have reached far past the Hallsville area.”
Don Driskill, who grew up in Hallsville, said giving back to the schools, for him, is a special cause.
“I grew up in a family of five boys,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot of extra money to go around. There’s been so many people doing so many things for me. Now it’s my turn.”