Final numbers have been tallied for the 2013 Operation Help Greeting Card and Constitution-Tribune Food for the Needy charity drives.
Operation Help received $12,610 in cash through the Constitution-Tribune giant greeting card published in the Dec. 24 newspaper. The Food for the Needy share drive, coordinated by the Constitution-Tribune with Hy-Vee Food Store and Piggly Wiggly, raised $11,058 in cash and food items for the The Salvation Army.
Donations to the Food for the Needy share drive allowed the Salvation Army to distribute 270 Christmas baskets in Chillicothe and Trenton and to stock its pantry shelves. An estimated 700 people were assisted with the Christmas baskets this past season.
“The food left over goes straight into our pantry,” said Salvation Army Major John Flanagan. “This gives us a good start to the new year.”
The C-T greeting card to benefit Operation Help was started in 1996 when funds for Operation Help had hit rock bottom.
At that time, “in December,” recalls Operation Help Treasurer John Cook, “I didn’t know how we could go through January.”
With a minimum donation of $1, anyone could have had their name listed on the card that was published in the C-T. The greeting card not only helped generate funds for Operation Help, but it also raised awareness of the financial needs of the charity.
“Other checks were sent in because of that,” Cook said.
In 2013, Operation Help wrote a total of 633 checks, amounting to $139,894, significantly higher than 2012’s amount of 534 checks totaling $108,468.
Last year, $77,500 was spent on utility payments, and $36,100 spent for rent. Medical payments were also included in the disbursements.
Last year, the food pantry assisted 5,361 families with food during its monthly distributions.
Operation Help often becomes the last stop when people don’t know where else to turn. Among those seeking assistance recently was a grandmother whose grandchildren “just got dumped on her lap.” Unprepared for the financial demands of additional mouths to feed and care for, the grandmother turned to Operation Help. Another recent request came from someone needing a medical procedure and funds to assist with that surgery. Frequently, those asking for assistance have received the notice that their utilities would be turned off and they need to stay warm.
“So often, we get the remark, ‘I don’t know what we’d do without it,’” Cook said.