Christmas at Home helped nearly 350 children, 400 families

Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:22 am

The 2019 Christmas at Home toy and food drive wrapped up shortly before Christmas, and numbers were somewhat mixed compared to last year and years past for the 14th annual event.

Although the number of children that received assistance (in the form of toys along with food boxes) was down somewhat from 2018, the total number of households, especially the elderly, increased by about 100 homes, according to unofficial counts released by the City of Albany, which spear-headed the drive this year.

The primary reason for the increase in households that received food boxes (346) was attributed to local Pastor Bobby Grant, who worked through the Feeding America program to secure several thousand pounds of food to distribute to those individuals and families that needed it most.

“I don’t know if we would have pulled it off this year without Bro. Grant’s help,” said City Clerk/Treasurer Melissa Smith, the primary organizer of this year’s program.

A couple of weeks prior to the pick-up and delivery deadline, collections of food was in shorter supply than usual so Bro. Grant, who has been with the Feed America organization for many years, contacted them and secured several thousand pounds of food of various types, which was picked up at Elizabethtown by city water department employees and brought back to Albany for packaging and distribution prior to the December 18 pick-up and delivery date.

Smith’s numbers showed that at least 381 children benefitted from the toy and food drive in 2019, which was down from an estimated 445 kids in 2018. However, the households served last year was unofficially 235, down a little over 100 homes compared to this year.

Smith noted that food for the elderly was a high priority in this year’s drive and many businesses, such as Horizon Adult Day, Golden Harvest Village and other entities that cater to housing elderly residents, had food delivered.

This year, gifts were not wrapped and people who were able picked up their own food and/or food and toy boxes with deliveries being made to the elderly or people who could not physically pick up the boxes on their own.

Most of the packaging and deliveries were made by city employees, primarily from the water and street departments and workers at city hall, including Smith herself.

Individuals and elderly people received food boxes only, but as always, families who had children received boxes that included both food and toys to match the age and gender of the children in the home.

Smith hopes the number of children served in 2020 will increase and there may be some subtle changes in the program, such as an earlier collection start and possible taking good conditioned used toys instead of new toys only.

Smith thanked all the volunteers, plus the businesses, churches and organizations that helped collect or donate to the drive.

She also noted that the Wolf River Houseboat Association always donated toys each year for the drive, which has been a big boost since the food and toy drive began.

This year, 10 churches also participated by collecting food for the drive, down only a couple from past years.

The city would like to thank the following for their donations and work that help make the annual Christmas at Home event another success:

Albany First Christian Church; Lands Chapel United Methodist Church; Caney Branch Baptist Church; Walnut Grove United Methodist Church; Albany First Methodist Church; Clinton County HOSA; Stony Point Baptist Church; Clinton County Care and Rehab Center; Gospel Baptist Church; Oak Grove Church (Bobby McIver, Pastor); Clinton County Middle School; Albany Elementary School; Albany First Baptist Church; Early Childhood Center; Clinton County High School; Save-A-Lot; Albany Independent Baptist Church; Dairy Queen of Albany; Kit Kaboodle; Dale Hollow Houseboat Owner’s Association; Sun Pools, Inc.; Dollar General Market; WANY radio; Clinton County News.

She also thanked anyone who donated in any way, including city employees who volunteered their time to help.