ith the help of one of its suppliers, Hy-Vee in Fremont gave away more than 350 bags of peaches for free to people in the community Tuesday morning.

“It was our opportunity to give those away to the community through just a simple, contactless drive-up,” Store Director Chris Hamilton said. “They grabbed a bag of peaches, rolled up their window and off they went.”

SunWest Fruit Company, based out of Parlier, California, gave away 38,000 pounds of peaches to Hy-Vee locations around the country to give out this week.

John Senn, sales representative at SunWest, said the company has had a business relationship with Hy-Vee for about 20 years.

“Our companies have been good business partners for a long time,” he said. “We heard that some vendors were donating product during this time of despair across the country, and we felt we wanted to try to help and do our part and decided to donate a truckload of peaches to help the cause.”

Hamilton said the Fremont Hy-Vee received 354 bags of mini peaches, totaling for more than 6,700 to give to the community.

On Tuesday morning, 10 employees equipped with masks and gloves handed out the bags on a first-come, first-served basis to cars in the store’s parking lot.

But even though the event began at 10 a.m., Hamilton said cars were lining up in the parking lot as early as 8:45 a.m.

“We felt we could get through that by noon, but it lasted an hour,” he said. “So it went about half the time we thought it would take, just because we didn’t know how many folks would be able to come out during that event at that time.”

Hamilton said both the employees and recipients enjoyed the free event.

“Everybody was so thankful as they came through,” he said. “And so for us, the employees that were out there working, it’s just great to just be able to take a step back and just give some waves and some smiles and put a smile on some people’s faces as well.”

Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton said it’s important to give back to people during this time.

“This just another way where we could give back to the community and give back to those who shop our stores or are here as a member of the community patronizing our business,” he said. “It’s just a way to give back to them.”

Senn said he felt that the giveaway went toward a good cause for Hy-Vee’s mission.

“The family that owns SunWest is behind those types of things, and Hy-Vee has been a great partner with SunWest for the last 20 years, so we appreciate their business and just wanted to do something to help them in the cause.”

With the giveaway, Hamilton said he wanted to brighten the recipients’ days a little more, even during uncertain times.

“This was just an opportunity for us to say ‘Hey, take a breath and come on out. You don’t have to spend any money,’” he said. “’Pull up, we’ll give you a bag of peaches and put a smile on your face and just kind of take away from everything for a minute and just enjoy that moment.’”