At the sound of "TRUCK!" dozens of area youth swarmed toward the door at Paducah Tilghman High School.

In just a few minutes, the arriving vehicle had been stripped clean of its contents: donated food, hygiene products, baby supplies and other groceries.

In just a few more minutes, the bags holding all those groceries were nowhere to be seen and the products lined over a dozen tables, ready to be bagged and distributed to area charities.

In all, the 25th annual Groceries for Good campaign on Saturday brought in 2,804 grocery bags worth $35,905 to Paducah area charities. In Massac County, Illinois, the drive totaled 604 bags with $7,480 in donated goods.

"I just love volunteering and giving back to the community as much as possible," McCracken County High School junior Reem Turkmani said.

"I am so happy and so proud of our community on how we came together and can accomplish something this big," she said.

Over its history, the drive has netted more than 41,000 bags full of donations totaling more than $630,000.

Sponsored by The Paducah Sun and The Metropolis Planet, the campaign benefits nine service organizations: Family Service Society, Hope Unlimited Family Care Center, Martha's Vineyard, Merryman House, Paducah Cooperative Ministry, Paducah Day Nursery, River City Mission, The Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul.

Heavy wind and rain caused some problems in the afternoon, knocking out power at one of the participating grocery stores.

Despite the weather, organizers were pleased with the outcome and with the hundreds of volunteers who helped from collecting and transporting groceries, to unloading, sorting and re-loading them.

"I can't thank the community enough for supporting our program and providing food for the people in our area," Paducah Sun Operations Manager Matt Jones said.

"I think it was an outstanding year for us."

Organizations on the receiving end expressed their gratitude for the community effort.

"When the community comes together like this and just spends a little bit extra in the checkout line, they're making a huge difference in the lives of individual families," said Anne Bidwell, director of development at Hope Unlimited.

Paducah Cooperative Ministry Executive Director Heidi Suhrheinrich said her organization's food pantry relies on the drive.

"We like to think it will get us through the holidays," she said. "It means a lot to all of us that this takes place every year."

Alyssa Williams, a senior at McCracken County High School, has volunteered to take part in other activities, but this was her first time at Groceries for Good.

"It's been hot and rushed at some points, but it's been a really good experience," she said. "My family's been in a place where we needed help from other people. It's just a really, really great thing for the community to help others."

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