The Lawton Food Bank will celebrate 35 years of service to the community from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, and they are inviting the public to join the celebration in a birthday parade.

The food bank was founded in 1985 by Carter and Marilyn Crane after the couple identified a need for such a service in the Lawton community. In 35 years the food bank has served the public through a number of historic events: from the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing through 9/11. Now, even with the unique challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak, the food bank continues helping those in need.

“My husband and I had just retired and we felt the need to give back to the community,” Marilyn Crane said. “I prayed and prayed until God gave me the answer, and with the help of some local churches we started the food bank.”

Food Bank Director Marny Skindrud, who took over the food bank in November 2019 after retiring from the Army, said the community has been the driving force in keeping the food bank going for 35 years.

“I say it over and over again but I really mean it,” Skindrud said. “We have the support of the community. The community helps us so much, and I was happy to come on during the Christmas season because I saw so much of the support of everyone during the holidays. Then during the pandemic as well, we have seen an amazing outpouring of support from individuals.”

As part of the celebration, the food bank is partnering with several local businesses to celebrate, including Liberty National Bank, Arvest Bank and BancFirst. The food bank is also asking supporters to participate in a parade with drivers cruising by the food bank and honking their horns, waving and donating.

“We are asking you to drop by and donate $35 in honor of our 35th birthday,” Skindrud said. “The good news — if you are one of our first 100 donors, you’ll get a free birthday cupcake courtesy of Liberty National Bank. If you are one of our first 25 donors, your donation — up to and including $35 — will be matched thanks to Arvest Bank. If you are one of the next 25 donors, your donation — up to $35 — will be matched as well, thanks to BancFirst. That’s right, 50 donations will be matched on Saturday so get here early to get yours matched.”

The Lawton Food Bank provides services from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. While donations are accepted anytime, the staff would prefer that those wishing to donate food stop by from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays.

The Lawton Food Bank provides food and other items to low-income residents of Southwest Oklahoma. In 2018, the Lawton Food Bank gave 772,571 pounds of food to 13,848 families.

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