The Constitution-Tribune's 35th annual Food for the Needy holiday share drive had its official start Friday through the partnership of the newspaper and The Salvation Army, along with Hy-Vee Food Store, Sliced Bread Market and Wal-Mart.

The Constitution-Tribune’s 35th annual Food for the Needy holiday share drive had its official start Friday through the partnership of the newspaper and The Salvation Army, along with Hy-Vee Food Store, Sliced Bread Market and Wal-Mart. Large red wooden bins have been set up at the local grocery stores to make it convenient for people to donate canned food or non-perishable food items for local residents. The bins will remain in place throughout the holiday season. The Food for the Needy share drive began in 1983 with a $1,000 goal and has since become a Chillicothe holiday tradition. The Constitution-Tribune sponsors the share drive each year in cooperation with The Salvation Army in Chillicothe. Since its inception, the effort has raised an estimated $343,000 in cash and food items for people in need. The food drive raised $16,500 last year in food and monetary donations combined. The effort typically is The Salvation Army’s largest community-supported food collection project and helps stock the shelves of the pantry throughout the year. The boxes at the grocery stores serve as a reminder that there are people in the community in need of some of life’s most basic needs, said C-T News Editor Cathy Ripley. “We ask shoppers to keep these people in mind as they shop,” she added. Ripley and Lt. Shannon Forney, Corps officer of The Salvation Army in Chillicothe, expressed appreciation to the grocery stores for making it convenient for donors to give by having the boxes at their entrances. Another bin is available for any community club, church, school, organization or business that may want to partake in the share drive. Requests for the bin may be made by contacting the C-T at 646-2411. Need knows no season and The Salvation Army has seen its clientele more than double in size since the beginning of the year, according to Forney. When the year began, The Salvation Army was averaging between 20 and 25 clients (either individuals or families) per month; however, after a case manager was hired this summer, the volume of clients increased to around 80 per month, with the highest being 125 in one month. Forney said the increase is likely due people becoming more aware of services offered, the food pantry reopening and the positive experiences that clients have when visiting with the case worker. After the 2015 Food for the Needy food donation supply was depleted in 2016, The Salvation Army’s food pantry was closed. “We didn’t have food donations or the manpower to operate it,” said Forney, who came to manage the Corps office in summer 2016. The Salvation Army did not reopen its food pantry until after the Food for the Needy share drive was completed in January 2017. Food that was donated during the share drive was distributed in Christmas food baskets to those who had signed up for food assistance and also used to stock the pantry shelves. The pantry reopened in January with a good supply of food. Food donation suggestions include any kind of vegetables (although the pantry has a good supply of green beans at this time), cereals, dry mixes, soups, pasta, pasta sauce, peanut butter, jelly, stuffing, Hamburger Helper mixes, cake mixes, potatoes, soups, tuna, rice, macaroni and cheese, crackers, canned fruit, canned meat, powdered milk, and tea bags. The Salvation Army also gets requests of food to accommodate restricted diets, such as gluten free or low sugar foods suitable for diabetic diets. The Salvation Army also accepts perishable food items, such as refrigerated or frozen meats that can be delivered directly to The Salvation Army and not left in the red bins. Clients are allowed to visit the food pantry every 30 days. They must show a photo identification, proof of income, proof of residency and Social Security cards. The Salvation Army receives bread from Hy-Vee on a regular basis and clients can come in each week for bread products, including sandwich breads and pastries. The number of individuals who have signed up for Christmas baskets has more than doubled over last year, Forney said. There were 40 applications last year and this year she estimates the number to be near 90. In Trenton, which is also served by the Chillicothe Salvation Army, the number of Christmas basket applications also more than doubled from 20 last year, to 44 this year. Food that goes into the Christmas baskets include a ham and whatever could provide a Christmas meal. This could include pasta mixes, vegetables, canned fruit, potatoes and gravy packets. Food basket distribution will be Wednesday, December 20. Donations are used for The Salvation Army’s Christmas basket distribution as well as to help stock the shelves throughout the coming year. Monetary donations are also needed at The Salvation Army. All cash donations go to The Salvation Army and stay local to buy perishable food items for local distribution, such as milk and meat. Checks for monetary donations may be made payable to Food for the Needy and be dropped off at the C-T business office or mailed to the paper office at P.O. Box 707, Chillicothe, MO 64601. Those wishing to donate toys for the Christmas baskets are asked to take the toys directly to The Salvation Army and not place them in the red Food for the Needy boxes.

What is needed: Any kind of vegetables (although the pantry has a good supply of green beans at this time), cereals, dry mixes, soups, pasta, pasta sauce, peanut butter, jelly, stuffing, Hamburger Helper mixes, cake mixes, potatoes, soups, tuna, rice, macaroni and cheese, crackers, canned fruit, canned meat, powdered milk, and tea bags; also, items suitable for individuals on restricted diets.