CARTHAGE, Ill. -- The Carthage Christmas Club needs volunteers and donations to keep a long-running community tradition alive.
For several decades, the club, which was formed by the Carthage Area Ministerial Alliance, has put together boxes of food for families in need at Christmas. The boxes include the basics for a holiday meal -- ham, canned goods, fresh produce and other necessary staples.
"During November and December, the financial donations usually come in," said Joy Swearingen, president of the Carthage Christmas Club steering committee. "We're a little bit behind where we were last year."
Last year, the club distributed almost $4,000 worth of food, serving 120 families. Swearingen expects closer to 130 families will receive boxes this year. Families that receive boxes are suggested by community agencies and churches.
"It's about the joy you get from helping people in need," Swearingen said. "It's an important thing that we want to keep going."
The club requests monetary donations, rather than donations of food items, as it has a set list of goods it needs to fill the boxes and works with County Market to receive the food at the lowest possible cost. Financial donations can be taken to Marine Bank and Trust in Carthage, where the club has an account.
"We have a savings account, but we need to generate the same amount each year to keep this going," Swearingen said.
The program serves Carthage and several of the smaller towns around it, like Denver and Burnside -- essentially the Carthage Elementary School District, Swearingen said.
Volunteers will be filling boxes at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8 in the First Baptist Church community room, and the boxes will be delivered to families at 8 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Volunteers are needed for both days.
For more information or to suggest a family that might need a box, call Swearingen at 217-357-4989.