Some Chillicothe residents are still trying to survive in the current economic conditions and are coming up short. At the same time, other residents are determined to help them make a brighter Christmas for their families.
Chillicothe Community Needs Agency Director Nancy Blew said more residents than ever this year signed up for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps residents pay for utilities.
Utility bills are usually the top reason why residents need emergency assistance from CNA, followed by rent, water and prescription bills.
Emergency help is a one-time grant, and though money has not run out, Blew said not as much money has been given like in the past.
Various situations place residents in the category of need: some are working but still fall within government poverty guidelines, a two-income family losing one income and more.
She even has seen more residents in need of emergency food.
"I've had more people than ever come in for the food pantry," said Blew. CNA keeps shelves of food for those in a pinch who need food.
During Christmas time, residents raise money for the annual Christmas baskets and assistance throughout the year. The goal this year remains the same as last year: $15,000.
The baskets look more like bags of food and toys for families who sign up with Blew. Last year 108 baskets were assembled. Blew estimates 110 to 125 baskets will be needed for this year.
Non-perishable food is donated for the baskets through collection points at IVC District 321 schools and the CNA office. Some groups also bring non-perishables to their events, such as the Holly Volleyball tournament or the VFW post activities. Added to the baskets is a Kroger gift certificate for meat and other perishables.
For families with children, the Chillicothe Optimist Club spearheads gathering toys for the youngsters. Gift-giving trees can be found at Pearce Community Center, Kroger, Chillicothe Public Library, First National Bank and Geiger True Value hardware store. Residents are to pick a paper ornament off one of the trees, which will list a gender and an age of a child.
Residents are then to buy a present, wrap it and tape the paper ornament to the front of the gift. Then, they drop it off at the tree where they picked up the ornament. The Optimists then will gather and sort all the toys.
The Chillicothe Altrusa Club adds candy to all the baskets going to families with children.
Volunteers are needed with strong backs and pick up trucks to collect the food at 9 a.m. Dec. 14 to take to the high school.
Anyone wanting to volunteer should call Blew at 274-6333.
Once all the gathering of the items for the baskets is complete, volunteers report to the Illinois Valley Central High School commons at 7 a.m. Dec. 15 to assemble the baskets.
Page 2 of 2 - Residents then will come to pick up their baskets, or for those who cannot physically get to the high school, Chillicothe firemen will deliver their baskets.