May 16th Miracle (Photo via Mayor Darrin Canniff Facebook)May 16th Miracle (Photo via Mayor Darrin Canniff Facebook)

May 16 Miracle unintentionally sets unofficial food drive record

The May 16th Miracle food drive in Chatham-Kent could be one for the record books.

After totalling up the donations that came in from across the municipality during the one-day event, organizers are now confident in saying that at least 678,200 pounds of food were collected.

That is roughly the same weight as three blue whales or 50 African elephants -- and could be enough to set a new world record for the largest food drive in 24 hours.

Brent Wilken, who was part of the team that organized the May 16 Miracle, said their initial totals are considered a conservative estimate.

"Two things are crazy: one, the total and then two, that no one was surprised by the total... we already knew we had done something special and we never even thought about a record," said Wilken. "We just focused on the need and tried to fill that need as much as possible."

The current record, according to Guinness World Records, is held by The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Food Drive, which collected 559,885 pounds of food in Durham, North Carolina, USA, on March 5, 2011.

Wilken said the team's focus right now is still squarely on getting the donated food to out to the people who need it the most, but now that they are aware the event could have set a new world record, they are looking into their options for whether or not they can make that official.

Hundreds of volunteers from across Chatham-Kent on May 16 for the event, with thousands of residents every community in the municipality taking part.

Wilken said they still have a "mountain" of volunteers that are working to sort out the food that was donated, bringing the total number of volunteers who took part before, during, and after the event to around 5,500 people. He said the donated food is already getting out to people who need it the most -- both through food banks and community-led initiatives.

"Places like Bothwell and Shrewsbury are creating their own systems that are just phenomenal, delivering to people's doorsteps and finding the people who need the food," said Wilken. "In the community, they know who's in need... and that's getting people in the system who may not have been in the system before."

Wilken said there are still some "very exciting things to come" to follow up the one-day event, adding that it shows when Chatham-Kent residents get together, anything is possible.

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