UPDATE: The Tennessee Valley's generous spirit showed itself December 8, as Channel 3's 33rd annual Share Your Christmas™ food drive gathered:

  • $87,376 in total donations 
  • 151,687 pounds of food

You can still drop off your non-perishable food donations at any Food City grocery story or WalMart Neighborhood Markets.

PREVIOUS STORY: Before the sun came up volunteers were up early to sort donations from the generous people of the Tennessee Valley. The 33rd annual Share Your Christmas™ food drive started before many of us even got out of bed. Volunteers were here overnight, and donors showed up as early as 4:30 a.m.

One by one and can by can, hundreds of people opened their hearts and cupboards to show love and make sure no one goes hungry.

"The holidays are a tough time for a lot of people that don't have, especially with kids, small children it's tough if you don't have the things to give them,” Tim Nutz said.

It's that spirit of giving and generosity that has been a tradition for 33 years. Since 1984, donations have poured in. Some people give by phone, others deliver in person. Tim Nutz and his wife have been the first donors at the First Tennessee Pavilion for several Share Your Christmas™ food drives.

"And now it's a challenge to be the first one here,” he said.

They do it to help their fellow neighbors who need a helping hand.

"There’s a lot of people that don't have as much, so we feel this is our opportunity just to give a little bit back to the food bank,” Nutz said.

Students of all ages took a school break to learn a lesson on giving, including the high schoolers at Silverdale Baptist Academy.

“We just feel that it's very important to give to the needy because we are so blessed and as Christians, it is our duty to give back to the less fortunate,” senior Sam Mauldin said.

It's something they look forward to each year.

"We’ve done it every single year since we we’ve been in high school, but this is the earliest we've ever been here,” Mauldin said.

Though their alarms went off early, this day serves as a reminder to everyone that they are a part of something bigger.

"It’s something we enjoy doing; it gives you a warm feeling inside,” Nutz said.

If you can’t make it to the Share Your Christmas™ food drive on Friday, you can still help the Chattanooga Area Food Bank by making a monetary donation online or dropping off non-perishable food items at any participating Food City, Walmart or Walmart Neighborhood Market.