The Constitution-Tribune is officially partnering with Operation Help and the community of Chillicothe once more, collecting donations and signatures for the annual giant Christmas greeting card project.

The project consists of persons in and around the community donating to Operation Help through the C-T, in exchange for their name appearing within the newspaper, via advertisement.

"I know the economy's tight, but any help they get here stays here in the local community," said C-T Publisher Rod Dixon on Wednesday.

For a monetary donation of at least $1 towards Operation Help, anyone can have his or her name included in a giant greeting card ad that will be displayed in the Monday, Dec. 24 edition of the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune.

Participants are asked to bring their name and donation amount into the C-T office at 818 Washington St., or to mail said information to: Constitution-Tribune, c/o Operation Help, P.O. Box 707, Chillicothe, MO 64601.

The cutoff deadline for donation collection is Friday, Dec. 21, at 12 noon.

Operation Help Treasurer John Cook, thus far (as of numbers calculated on Friday, Nov. 30), 494 checks have been issued to those in need via Operation Help this year, to the tune of $99,763.24. Of that total, approximately $61,000 (the largest total amount) has gone towards utility expenses. The next largest — $25,398.81 — has gone towards rental costs.

"We had some funding, and it's dwindled down," Cook said. "We're going to top the $100,000 mark. Donations so far through November were $73,000."

Last year, alone, the greeting card project raised $6,334 for those in need in the local community.

Operation Help was established by the Chillicothe Ministerial Alliance in the early 1980s, and uses funds raised around the community in its programs to provide a number of financial assistances — including paying for heating bills and offering rental assistance — for the needy. Also, as of January this year, the organization took over the food pantry from Cornerstone Church, and has assisted 4,570 families and 12,828 individuals in that way.

The majority of the funding for organizational use is taken in during the holiday season, although other fundraisers are held throughout the year.

The giant greeting card project began over a decade ago, as a partnership between the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune and Operation Help.