CNA increases goal to assist area needy

Marianne Gillespie

One of the ways Chillicotheans take care of their own who need support during the holidays is the Community Needs Agency’s Christmas baskets.

While they are known as the “CNA?baskets,” they really end up being much larger than what someone thinks of as a basket.

Families with children not only receive the food, but also toys through the Chillicothe Optimist Club’s annual toy drive and candy from the Chillicothe Altrusa Club.

The need this year remains as great as it has in the last couple years, according to Nancy Blew CNA?director.

She continues to see more people than before, especially those who need the emergency food pantry and assistance with their Ameren Illinois bill through the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program.

“The cost of living keeps going up and up and people’s salaries are static,” said Blew. “It’s really hard, and then add to that the cost of everything going up — food, clothes and toys for the kids.”

“To be able to offer assistance to them is a good feeling.”

There are many ways to help with the baskets.

“We need money, food, toys and volunteers,”?said Blew.

Monetary donations assist in the purchase of Kroger meat certificates and other perishable items for the baskets.

Additionally, the money not used on the baskets is spent throughout the year for emergency services such as rent and utility assistance.

Anyone making a donation should include a note of dedication for the Christmas listing if desired in the upcoming editions of the Chillicothe?Times-Bulletin.

Residents gathering food for the cause may drop them off at the following collection points: IVC?District 321 schools, the Chillicothe Public Library, the Veterans of Foreign Wars?Post 4999 and the CNA office.

Residents are encouraged to buy a corresponding item with their food donation, such as peanut butter and jelly or Tuna Helper and tuna.

Food fills the stomachs of those needing assistance, but the toys are what brings smiles to children’s faces.

The Chillicothe Optimist Club spearheads the drive annually for toys through the giving trees.

Located at Pearce Community Center, Kroger, Geiger’s True Value Harware, Chillicothe Public Library and First National Bank sponsor a tree adorned with paper gift tags. On each tag is a specific gender and an age of a child.

Residents are asked to take the paper ornament and buy a gift appropriate for the grade-school child. They are then to wrap it, secure the tag to the gift and put it back under the tree.

Time is another gift that residents may give to the needy.

Volunteers are always needed each year to put the baskets together.

They will gather at 7 a.m. Dec. 17 at Illinois Valley Central High School to make the baskets.

To get ready for the basket assembly, volunteers with pickup trucks also are needed to gather all the food from the drop off points. Volunteers for the hefty job should call Blew at 274-6333.