WEST CHESTER (October 24) – State Senator Andy Dinniman will participate in the  third annual Diwali food drive organized by residents of the Byers Station community in Downingtown on Saturday.

“The Chester County region is home to a large and growing Indian population, and it is uplifting to see individuals and families celebrating their cultural and religious traditions in a way that gives back to the greater community and specifically our neighbors in need,” Dinniman said. “I want to personally thank everyone who continues to help make the Diwali food drive such a rousing success. Keep up the good work!”

The food drive, which benefits the Chester County Food Bank, coincides with Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Light – a five-day festival celebrated in accordance with various versions of an ancient Hindu story. This year the celebration of Diwali begins on October 23.

Last year's Diwali food drive collected 11,700 pounds of food for the Chester County Food Bank.

Last year’s Diwali food drive collected 11,700 pounds of food for the Chester County Food Bank.

“One of the core characteristics of Diwali is to serve and feed those in need and give thanks for what has been bestowed on us so generously,” said Kiran Nukiranti, who organizes the food drive. “This is an opportunity not only for us to give back to the community, but also to teach our young people about the value and importance of community service and to educate others about our culture.”

The food drive has grown in recent years to include hundreds of families and four additional area communities – Bell Tavern, Malvern Hunt, the Reserve at Eagle and Windsor Ridge. More than 150 local families are expected to participate at the Byers Station site.

In its inaugural (2012) year, the food drive collected 1,700 pounds of food for local families in need. Last year, participants collected a whopping 11,700 pounds. This year, the goal is raise 20,000 pounds.

Nukiranti, of Chester Springs, said he is confident the drive will surpass this year’s goal and credits a drastic increase in participating families and young people.

“We have seen a tenfold increase in the number of participants each year,” he said. “Every year I get calls from more and more families that want to get involved.”

Dinniman, who helped establish the Chester County Food Bank and Gleaning Program more than 15 years ago, said he is routinely amazed by the amount of supporters who have gotten involved in the highly successful community partnership.

Additional volunteers are welcome to attend and donations of nonperishable foodstuffs are encouraged. The event, which is sponsored by Acme Markets, begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 25 at the Byers Station community’s clubhouse located at 1190 Station Blvd. in Chester Springs.

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