CHILLICOTHE — The Community Needs Agency is just days away from the kick-off of its most important event of the year. The annual Christmas Basket Drive will begin Nov. 18 at the Chillicothe Kroger Store with Santa Claus ringing the bell to raise funds from 9 to 11 a.m. that day.

The CNA Christmas Basket Drive is the fundraising effort which provides a basket of food to not only makes a Christmas dinner, but also offers food to fill the cupboards of those in need.

The drive also helps fund all of CNAs many programs and assistance throughout the year.  More than 450 individuals and families were helped through CNA in 2017. Assistance came in the form of emergency assistance, Christmas baskets and other CNA programs. CNA was even able to help by providing 1,300 pounds of fresh produce raised in the CNA Community Garden according to CNA executive director Theresa Meister.

“There are several ways the public can help us ensure everyone in the area has a merry Christmas,” said CNA Board of Directors president Darlene Kumpf. She said CNA has set a goal of $45,000 to meet the not-for-profit agency’s needs for the coming year.

In addition to providing emergency funds for rent, utilities and other essentials, CNA offers information and referral of social services, Strategies in Hope (help, hope and empowerment seminars), Spring Cleaning Buckets, the CNA Community Garden, School Backpacks, and new this year, High School Equivalency Diploma preparation classes. 

There are several opportunities to help the CNA drive, including, volunteering to ring the bell at the Chillicothe Kroger store, making donations to the Bucket Brigade at the Chillicothe Kroger store, donating canned goods at several area locations, dropping change in counter kettles throughout the city and directing those in need to sign up for a Christmas basket at the CNA office. 

CNA will again this year coordinate their basket distribution with the Chillicothe Optimist Club’s Gift Giving Tree, which collects toys for children in need at Christmas.

This year CNA volunteer Nicole Jenkins will head up the bell ringing efforts. To volunteer to ring the bell, call Jenkins at 309-264-2220. Families, individuals, groups and friends are invited to help.

The Illinois Valley Central High School Everyday Leadership Class is placing barrels in a number of area businesses to collect canned goods and non-perishable foods to help fill the Christmas baskets and the cupboards of those in need this holiday season. 

CNA board members Larry and Brenda Stewart have organized the CNA counter kettles to be placed in area businesses on Nov. 18. Counter kettles will be in Circle K South, Circle K North, Beck’s Service Station, VFW Post 4999, American Legion Post 9, Happy Thought Coffee, Track Inn and Geiger’s True Value. Pocket change adds up quickly to help CNA. Top counter kettle fundraiser last year was Circle K South bringing in $136.51.

Meister is asking for volunteers to help fill the Christmas baskets Dec. 16 to be distributed to those in need. Everyone is welcome to participate in an event which has become a holiday tradition for many. Those who would like to volunteer to fill baskets should be at IVC High School at 7 a.m. Dec. 16.

CNA services those in need residing in the boundaries of IVC School District. To sign up to receive a Christmas basket, call the CNA office at 274-6333. If leaving a message please be sure to clearly state name and a telephone number to receive a return call.