Free hams: ‘Phenomenal’ event helps area families

The free hams didn’t last long. Most were gone in an hour.

Hy-Vee workers joined by Davenport police officers and firefighters handed out 500 free hams to Quad Cities area residents during Hy-Vee’s fifth “One Step Hams for the Holidays” campaign late Monday afternoon.

“It’s phenomenal. We’re helping 500 families today,” Eric Kraciun, Hy-Vee district store director, said during the giveaway event at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport.

A Davenport firefighter carries hams on Monday, April 11, at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

Many area families and residents also saw the event as phenomenal with hundreds of people showing up hours early to receive a free ham. In fact, there were so many vehicles lined up on Locust Street outside the fairgrounds that event organizers decided to begin the giveaway an hour early – at 4 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. – in order to get vehicles off the street and head off any traffic hazards. All hams were handed out by about 5:30 p.m.

Once inside the fairgrounds, volunteers were busy handing out one free ham per vehicle, and moving vehicles through as quickly as possible. Organizers were divided into two lines in an attempt to direct vehicles more quickly through the fairgrounds.

“We’re trying to be efficient. We have two lines going now,” Mr. Kracium said shortly after the ham giveway began.

Despite the often hectic pace, many of the event’s volunteers said they were happy to help.

“I think this is great. We’re helping some people who need help,” said Hy-Vee driver Kevin VandeLune, who was busy taking hams out of a truck and handing them off to other volunteers.

“Hams for the Holidays” is a collaborative effort with Hormel Foods to help provide hunger relief in communities served by Hy-Vee stores. The ham giveaway in Davenport is one of 19 planned events that the Iowa-based Hy-Vee will hold across 10 states and distribute nearly 7,400 total hams.

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