For the Golden Harvest Food Bank, hunger is not an option in this community, especially during the holidays.

On Saturday, the organization’s Aiken warehouse hosted its first “Yule Get Food” event, in which residents in need could come out and fill boxes with food free of charge while children got a few cool gifts on the side thanks to Santa. According to Golden Harvest’s S.C. Chief Development Officer Mike Gibbons, 19,000 pounds of food was spread among 1,285 people with the help of more than 50 volunteers.

Golden Harvest Director Travis McNeal said he appreciates Gibbons coming up with the event as well as the hard work of the staff and volunteers that helped make the event so successful.

“This kind of event happens when you have vision, passion but then you have to put into action,” McNeal said. “Our team pulled together and in 100 percent fashion to just do what we do; just to bless the socks off people during this time of year.”

Attendees of the event were very grateful for the opportunity to gather some food for the holidays.

“I think it’s very nice that they’re giving to the underprivileged,” said resident Joe Stanford. “I think it’s a nice thing to do.”

George Sullivan said he works a few hours at his fast-food restaurant job but is struggling to make ends meet. He smiled as he pointed to a box and a few bags filled with food.

“This puts food on the table,” Sullivan said. “This will probably get me through the first of the year.”

Volunteers of all ages helped people load their boxes and bags as well as carry their items to their vehicles. Ryan Schluter was one of several children volunteering and teamed up with his dad Carl to help hand out boxes of cereal bars. Ryan said he likes helping people, and when asked how volunteering made him feel, he shyly said, “Great.”

Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010. She is a native of Rustburg, Va. and a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.