For Kim Renninger, the buildup to the anniversary of her husband’s slaying is intense.
This year, she has something to look forward to.
Renninger and the other family members of four Lakewood police officers killed two years ago at a Parkland coffee shop will be accepting canned food and cash Tuesday as part of the second annual Fallen Officers Food Drive.
“On the anniversary of the worst day of our lives, this gives us something to do and gives back to the community,” Renninger said recently. “It is so important to all of us.”
Family members and police officials created the food drive last year as a way to remember the officers and to honor their dedication to the community.
“This is our small way of doing that and carrying it on,” said Renninger, who sits on the board for the food drive.
Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Greg Richards, Tina Griswold and Ronald Owens were gunned down Nov. 29, 2009, as they gathered at the start of their Sunday morning shift at a Forza coffee shop.
The gunman, Maurice Clemmons, was killed less than two days later by a Seattle police officer.
Last year’s inaugural effort was on the anniversary. Emergency Food Network staff members stood outside the Lakewood Police Department and accepted donations from passers-by as family members and officers took part in two memorials to mark the somber day.
The drive brought in $31,034.84 in cash and 23,171 pounds of food, said Helen McGovern, executive director of the Emergency Food Network. This year’s goal is to raise $50,000 in cash and bring in 50,000 pounds of food.
“Everything is always appreciated,” Renninger said.
The significant others and children of the slain officers will collect food on the opening day of this year’s weeklong food drive. They’ll be at the Lakewood Police Department from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday.
“We will be on the front lines this year,” Renninger said.
McGovern said the drive is needed because of heavy demand in Pierce County.
Through September, the Emergency Food Network had distributed more food this year than all of last year, when it distributed 14 million pounds of food to residents. It is on track to hand out 19 million pounds this year.
“That’s a big jump,” McGovern said. “It’s been a particularly bad two years.”
The most needed – and valuable – food donations are peanut butter, baby food and formula, fruit juices and canned fruits, vegetables, meat, stews and fish.
“This is an opportunity for people to give shelf-stable food that we can give out to people who can use it over the next month or two,” McGovern said.