APEX, N.C. — In 24 hours, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, local members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Walmart, the United States Veterans Corps, Chic-fil-A and area schools collected 559,885 pounds of food on March 5.

They are hoping it’s enough for a world record.

The previous world record for the largest food drive by a noncharitable organization in 24 hours was set on Sept. 21, 2008, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who collected 509,147 pounds of donated food, according to the Guinness World Records.

Last year, an attempt by the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics to surpass the record fell short.

More than 1,000 volunteers from LDS congregations in Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Apex, Holly Springs, Garner and Fuquay-Varina gathered at church buildings to receive, sort and date-check food.

“I don’t think I have been involved with a project that brought together so many different groups,” said Harry Maxwell, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Southern Wake County. “We really admire the effort of the North Carolina School of Science and Math to do something significant for people in need, and this particular project is one that really required multiple community partners and many individual contributions.” 

Members of the LDS Church collected and donated 180,000 pounds of food on the day.

Sue Anne Lewis, the North Carolina School of Science and Math chairwoman for the event, provided leadership throughout the food drive. She was on site at 4 a.m. to make sure everyone was ready to collect, sort, weigh and load the food. She had a bullhorn in hand, cheering on volunteers and sharing progress toward the world record goal. At 10:30 p.m. she gathered hundreds of students and volunteers to announce the results of the food drive. “Our theme was ‘Yes we can,’ and I am happy to announce that ‘Yes we did,” she said as students cheered.

Area Walmart employees transported 23 tractor trailers full of food from the collection point at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics to the Food Bank and donated a total of 150,000 pounds of food during the day.

The United States Veterans Corps drove forklifts to load 23 semi-trucks full of food. “We love being involved in this kind of service,” said Andy Ladner. “This is what we do. This is who we are at the Veterans Corp.”

Chick-Fil-A and area schools provided drop sites and collected much needed food. Hundreds of individual volunteers canvassed their neighborhoods to help with the effort.

President Matt Harding of the Raleigh, North Carolina Stake, said he was grateful for all who helped organize and carry out this project.

“This has been an amazing experience to see so many great organizations step forward to help out. The North Carolina School of Science and Math has taken the lead on this food drive, and it has been fun for us to link arms with them and many others in the community on the project,” Harding said. “I’m impressed with the common goal we share as human beings to help those in need. We have felt the love of Christ as we have had the opportunity to give, help and lift others. That’s what the Savior’s ministry was all about.”

The donation represented more than 40 percent of the food that the food bank receives from food drives annually, said Charlie Hale, vice president of information technology and operations at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.