Operation Help tops $12,000; Food for Needy early count, 6,954 pounds

Local charities saw success in raising funds from the local community this holiday season.
One large fundraising effort for Operation Help is the holiday greeting card published annually by the Constitution-Tribune. Last year, the greeting card raised more than $16,000 for the local not-for-profit organization. That total holds the record for monetary totals since the greeting card’s inception in 1996. As of press time today (Monday), the 2013 greeting card featured more than 250 names for a total of $12,500, nearly doubling the 2011 total of $6,334. The card will be published in Tuesday’s C-T.
Another annual fundraising drive is the Constitution-Tribune’s Food for the Needy campaign, which raised more than $10,000 in cash and food donations for The Salvation Army. As of today (Monday), the Food for the Needy share drive raised $3,200 in cash and  6,954 pounds of food, translating into a combined $10,154.
“We live in a great community,” C-T General Manager Andrea Graves said. “Everyone steps up to help those in need.”
Operation Help Treasurer John Cook said while donations may have decreased slightly compared to years past, the number of families seeking assistance has increased immensely.
“The cost for food and other needs are increasing, so more people are needing,” Cook explained. “Through November 2012, we had 494 checks written for $99,763,” Cook said. “This November, we wrote 559 checks for $124,704. They can say all they want about how the economy is improving, but I don’t see it here in Chillicothe or Livingston County.”
Cook said every dollar donated to Operation Help is used to support those in need. He said no money is spent on fundraising or advertising efforts. Because of this, the organization relies on a number of community fundraisers throughout the year.
“First Christian Church has their chili supper and their spaghetti supper,” Cook said. “Sometime in the summer, the Presbyterian Church hosts an ice cream social and auction off a quilt with donations going to Operation Help. The day of the Christmas parade, the Masonic Lodge also has their chili lunch. Half of those proceeds goes to Operation Help.”
Another facet of Operation Help’s community outreach during the holiday season is their assistance with local food pantries. Cook said more than 4,973 families have received food assistance thanks to the work of Operation Help and the Chillicothe Ministerial Alliance. Food assistance was also available through the annual Food for the Needy program, a collaborative effort of The Salvation Army, Hy-Vee Food Stores, Piggly Wiggly and the C-T.
“We have packed and distributed 268 Christmas food baskets as of Dec. 20,” Salvation Army Major John Flanagan said. “We will be distributing a few more, as we are still taking late applications.”
A number of schools and clubs helped donate items to the Food for the Needy program. Flanagan said 2,171 pounds of food, as well as $3,200 was collected at donation boxes located at Hy-Vee, Piggly Wiggly, The Salvation Army and the C-T office. Other donation totals are as follows: Chillicothe High School, 3,247 pounds; Grand River Technical School, 815 pounds; FFA, 512 pounds; Girl Scouts, 84 pounds; Jr. Sorosis, 75 pounds; and Freedom of the Road Riders, 50 pounds. Flanagan said a warehouse in Kansas City donated $1,000 worth of food. Total food donations reached more than 6,954 pounds.
The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Drive was also successful in this area. Flanagan said a goal of $30,000 had been set for this year’s campaign. As of Dec. 17, $24,953 had been raised.
Both The Salvation Army and Operation Help accept donations throughout the year. For more information, call The Salvation Army at 660-646-3538 or Operation Help at 660-646-1157.