Chillicothe agency kicks off fundraiser for Christmas food baskets

By Elise Zwicky For Chronicle Media

The Chillicothe Community Needs Agency does many contributions to the community, including Christmas food boxes for those in need. (Photo courtesy of Chillicothe Community Needs Agency )

With the holiday season just around the corner, the Chillicothe Community Needs Agency is kicking off its annual fundraiser that makes it possible to deliver Christmas food baskets to those in need.

CNA staff and volunteers have been planning the organization’s annual drive for months. While most of the money raised goes toward distribution of food baskets at Christmas, the fundraiser also supports the agency’s mission of providing temporary assistance to local families throughout the year.

“CNA has been helping local families in need around Chillicothe for more than 40 years,” said CNA Board President Darlene Kumpf. “And the community throughout that time has been generously providing the resources to allow us to do that. We know the area will come through again to make sure local families get the assistance they need, often just to meet basic needs.”

The Chillicothe CNA is dedicated to helping those in need in the community with financial assistance and programs to enrich, educate and empower individuals. Those living within the boundaries of the IVC school district may qualify for assistance.

Anyone requesting a Christmas food basket can sign up beginning Nov. 18 at the CNA office at 418 Wilmot St. in Chillicothe. Volunteers will gather to assemble the food baskets on Dec. 21 at the IVC high school commons area.

“There are a lot of moving parts involved in making this possible,” said CNA board member Larry Stewart. “Obviously, a huge part is the food collection. We have a number of groups—civic clubs, veterans’ groups and students at Illinois Valley Central District 321, among others—that collect non-perishable food. Part of the money raised goes to purchase perishable food for the baskets. These items are purchased right before the baskets are handed out and ensure that each family receives a complete and balanced meal.”

The program’s success ultimately depends on the agency’s ability to raise funds, Kumpf noted. “Chillicothe is an unbelievably generous community,” she said. “We have people who donate money year after year to CNA. When people hear about the Christmas food baskets and know CNA is looking for financial support, we’ll begin to see checks show up. Community Needs Agency couldn’t operate without this annual financial support.”

Another big part of the fundraising is the Bucket Brigade, which are the bell ringers located just inside the door at the Chillicothe Kroger store to encourage shoppers to drop money in a bucket as they come and go to do their grocery shopping. “We have a great core of volunteer bell ringers but can always use more,” Kumpf said. “The Bucket Brigade has been a key part of our fundraising for years.”

The third part of the fundraising effort is money deposited in green kettles at nearly a dozen merchants around Chillicothe.

“Over the years, people have been willing to support our formula for success—helping CNA help others,” Kumpf said. “We always need volunteers and, of course, donations. We hope people will continue to remember CNA in their end-of-the-year giving.”

For more information or to volunteer, call the CNA office at 309- 274-6333. Donations can be dropped off at the CNA office at 418 Wilmot St. during office hours from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Donations can also be mailed to Community Needs Agency, P.O. Box 103, Chillicothe, IL 61523.