Game show-inspired event inspires Warsaw community to give

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WARSAW, Ind. (WNDU) - The holiday season is right around the corner, and in Warsaw Wednesday night, the community came together to provide donations to residents in need.

Since 10 a.m., people from Grace College and Mission Point Community Church asked shoppers to buy nonperishable food items and baby products for area pantries.

Late Wednesday night, a competition between the students to see who was able to buy the most for those in need wrapped up.

College students and church group volunteers sorted donations from shoppers.

"It's my favorite event, because it's like everyone in the community is figuring out a role to play in one night," Grace College junior Dennis Glass said.

Inspired by ABC's "Supermarket Sweep" gameshow, the event became reality nine years ago.

"The amount that we get goes up by every hour, and I'm wowed by the way people come in and shop and they leave it all here for us to donate to other places," said Kearstin Criswell, who created the drive.

The students really get into the competition, doing some crazy things to earn gift cards. Like singing competitions and ripping off armpit hair with waxing strips.

"Every year, it seems to get a little bigger and a little rowdier," Grace College Dean of Students Aaron Crabtree said. "They all recognize that they enjoy plenty and some privilege, so the opportunity to come and the opportunity to give back and bless others this time of year is special."

"It's an event that's not really about us and it's something that we always remember," Glass said. "So it’s always just really cool because we hear the amount of money or food that we raise and all of the places that we can help out.”

And it's an event that combines fun and the idea of truly giving back.

"It's important for our community to know that we're behind them in what they want to do and we support when times are tough, and times can be tough," Criswell said.

"I think the biggest thing is it creates community, and we help the community," Glass said. "It's one of those ways to get off of campus and just have fun, and it also helps other people, too, so it's like a win, win."

Volunteers said they raised $23,193.01 worth of items. All of that is going to go to Combined Community Services, the Salvation Army and Heartline Pregnancy Center.

They'll be shipping it all off Thursday at 9 a.m.

Criswell said if you missed the drive, there are always opportunities to give to these pantries.

They can do this every time they come into the grocery store, they can always show up and buy a few more things and drop it off somewhere, and it’s going to have an impact," she said. "So yes it’s important to do it today, but it’s important to be mindful of others every day.”