DARKE COUNTY — The 2021 Darke County Community Christmas Drive is off to a good start after the first four days, but the community’s help is still needed to raise the funds necessary to help those who are struggling in our area.
A total of $5,708.69 was collected this past weekend, bringing the total collected so far to $10,474.65. Last year, an amazing total of $43,566.54 was donated to help a number of organizations supported through the drive.
This year’s drive is in honor of the late Rev. Joseph Soley who served as the chairman of the drive for a number of years. It supports seven different organizations that assist people in our community. This includes Community Unity, that helps meet various financial needs including utilities, rent and medical expenses for those clients who qualify. President Doug Klinsing reports that so far in 2021, Community Unity has helped 278 families, including 581 individuals with $33,855 in assistance.
Director of the Fish Choice Pantry, Kristy Cutarelli, reports that since November of last year through November of this year, volunteers have donated 1,997 hours in serving 910 families through the pantry (2,306 individuals) and 108 families through home delivery, which includes 66 new families. FISH has made 57,570 pounds in food donations over the last year.
Sharon Fellers reports that the Castine Area Food Bank (CAFB) experienced a decline in food assistance requests this year, through September. Their Thanksgiving holiday food distribution last month helped 76 families who were given food, and so far the Christmas holiday food distribution has 82 families signed up. CAFB has also temporarily changed their policy of only serving people three times a year, to serving them once a month.
From November 2020 to November of this year, the Grace Resurrection Community Center (GRCC) Food Pantry has served 10,720 people in 3117 households, residing in 23 different zip codes, with the majority of households being in Greenville. The Food Pantry, which is open Mondays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., has distributed 240,000 lbs. of food equating to 97,578 meals being provided to members of our community. Volunteers have served 3,674 hours throughout the year in the Food Pantry. The GRCC Community Lunch (formerly known as soup kitchen) served a total of 18,838 meals. Volunteer churches choose their own menu, and purchase the needed food for each lunch. These volunteers donated 5,831 hours preparing and serving lunch, which is Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon, either as a sit down, or carry out meal. Their Clothing Bank, which is open on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., has served 2,648 households, as volunteers have donated 2,113 hours. GRCC volunteers have totalled an impressive 11,618 hours of service over all of their ministries. GRCC Director Curt Garrison would like to personally thank the Community Christmas Drive Committee for the partnership and support of the ministries at GRCC.
Lisa Headley, who wishes a Merry Christmas to all, reports that the Salvation Army’s numbers were down a little because of Community Action Partnership (CAP) not being open to the public in 2021. All requests for Salvation Army Assistance were received by email and phone, due to COVID. This year they have only had requests for $225 in gas while they’ve given a total of $767 in produce vouchers (spent at Eikenberry’s) to low-income senior citizens with monthly food boxes from CAP, so they could have some fresh produce.
The Ansonia Community Food Bank is also supported through the drive, along with the Faith United Methodist Food Bank in Arcanum. Donations can be made at 13 different locations throughout the county with several buckets being manned on the Fridays and Saturdays of Dec. 10 and 11, and 17 and 18, in addition to Monday, Dec. 20 and Tuesday, Dec. 21. Donations can also be made to the “Darke County Community Christmas Drive” by mailing them to the Greenville National Bank, P.O. Box 190, Greenville, OH 45331, or by dropping off a donation to Community Christmas Drive Treasurer Mike Boyer at the main branch of the Greenville National Bank. Any questions about the drive can be directed to Co-Chairman Frank Marchal at 937-569-1439.