Hundreds of volunteers gathered Saturday morning to make the holidays brighter for many people this holiday season. The annual Community Needs Agency Christmas Basket Drive took place Dec. 16 at Illinois Valley Central High School.

As always volunteers wheeled canned goods donated through the IVC High School Everyday Living class to the commons area to begin sorting them.  After being sorted grocery carts are wheeled through the commons to be filled to meet the needs of each of the recipients.

Elementary school age through senior citizen volunteers found jobs to help fill the Christmas baskets.

Those receiving baskets are also able to choose from stacks of handmade blankets donated by La Prairie Presbyterian Church. This year winter apparel was gathered at local financial institutions to be available at the basket distribution.

As in past years, the Chillicothe Optimist Club has been busy coordinating the distribution of toys to families with children who are in need this year. This year’s toy chairman of the gift Giving Tree was Mary Jo Moore. She said the club gathered bags of toys for 123 household representing more than 130 children. “The community was wonderful and really came through for the children this year,” said Moore.

The Chillicothe Fire Department once again delivered Christmas baskets and toys to individuals and families who were unable to pick up their baskets.

CNA executive director Theresa Meister offered many thanks for so many donations this year. She said from the monetary donations from the community, to the work of the Chillicothe Optimist Club, Fire Department, LaPrairie Church, local financial institutions, IVC High School Everyday Leadership class, Altrusa International and High Five Sports for their respective donations, all have greatly contributed to the effort. Meister also recognized the volunteer efforts of all of those who rang the Bucket Brigade bell, Larry and Brenda Stewart coordinating the Counter Kettles, Scouts from Troop 91, Pack 91 and Troop 50 and the Young Marine group, as well as Nicole Jenkins and the sea of volunteers who do a myriad of jobs to care for those in need. “Their work is so important and is the spirit of the holiday season.”

“It takes so many donations of so many kinds and volunteers’ work to meet the needs of the community and Chillicothe has come through again, said Meister.