SOUTHERN ILLINOIS -- As he makes his way around southern Illinois, Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) sees firsthand the needs of those he is elected to serve.
One of those needs is food insecurity. That need is even more pronounced due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I got to thinking," he said, "a can of soup is a good, hearty, meal."
With that thought in mind, he met with some local church and business leaders. The result is a unique food drive, "Together We Can," which aims to collect and distribute 50,000 cans of soup between now and Mar. 15.
So far, the response has been nothing short of phenomenal.
"We're just getting started and we are already at 25,000 cans," said Fowler.
He is not a bit surprised about the response.
"I've seen it time in and time out," he said, "especially with food insecurity. People see the need, they understand it, and they want to step up and do something about it."
Along with helping to feed those in need, Fowler is also hoping to have an impact on local businesses.
"We are accepting monetary donations," he said. "We'll be buying canned soup at local grocery stores, targeting the locally-owned mom and pop store."
That, he said, will equate to thousands of dollars spent on cans of soup.
He also hopes that those stores will benefit by being a drop-off location.
"People can come in and buy soup and just drop it in the donation box," said Fowler.
Fowler said the Fowler Bonan Foundation is partnering with the Little Chapel Church and the Southern Illinois Worship Center.
Right now, drop-off locations include both of these churches as well as over a dozen other locations. Monetary donations can be mailed to the Fowler Bonan Foundation, P.O. Box 848, Harrisburg, IL 62946.
There is also a link on the foundation website at www.fowlerbonanfoundation.com as well as information on the Facebook page.
Fowler said with the project off to a hot start, he has hopes of exceeding the 50,000-can goal.
"Can you imagine how many families we'll be able to provide for?" he asked.