The Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce understands that what may be a season of excitement for children can often be a nightmare for working-class parents. The start of school shouldn’t break the bank and leave parents raising the question, “How can I afford to pay my bills now?”

Beginning this week and running through Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 5 p.m., the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Back to School Food Drive to help ease the financial pains that the season brings.

“We reach out to our membership base hoping that we could drum up some support for our community organizations that provide food and toiletries to people who need them in our community,” said Christina Jorgensen, executive director of Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jorgensen is calling on businesses and individuals to come donate items from snack-size food items to boxes of mac and cheese, and even toothbrushes and soap.

The items collected will be given to the Amen Food Pantry at 1100 Third Ave. W.

“Our shelves are almost empty, so that's why the Dickinson Area Chamber or Commerce are doing this food drive for us,” Susie Kopelowitz, of Amen Food Pantry, said. “People tend to forget about donating food when it's not Christmas season, but we’re running out of food now.”

All items are welcomed with only minor exceptions. Fresh produce will not be accepted because it may spoil. Those seeking to donate fresh produce can take it directly to Amen Food Pantry,

According to the chamber, the program is an opportunity for the organization to show its compassion for a growing problem in the community.

“This all came about because we at the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce are real passionate about the community,” Austin Boepple, the event and member relationship manager with the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce, said.

Jorgensen said there is an incentive to donate.

Donors from outside the chamber will be put into a drawing where two individuals will be selected and awarded $50 worth of chamber bucks. Chamber bucks can be redeemed at any of the businesses that our associated to the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Our chamber bucks have been in use and circulation for a number of years now and utilized for different purposes,” Jorgensen said. “Business like using them for prizes for safety awards… we are hoping that its an incentive for people to shop locally and to support our members.”