As Christmas nears, local programs are hard at work to get needed essentials to deserving families

Posted December 14, 2020 at 2:59 pm



A scaled back and somewhat shortened annual Christmas at Home food and toy drive is already wrapping up this week, with the City of Albany, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, distributing only food to the needy.

The program, now in its 15th year, worked in conjunction in 2020 with the newly established Operation Hometown Christmas program, organized basically through the schools.

Despite the pandemic, and thanks again to Bro. Bobby Grant for once again securing food from the Feed America organization, an estimated 500 residents will be helped again this year.

Both Grant and Melissa Smith also noted that some of the food was donated by some churches, individuals and businesses, and purchased with some monetary donations that had been made.

The Christmas at Home program has been spearheaded for the last two years by the City of Albany and coordinated by city clerk/treasurer Smith and other city employee volunteers.

Recently, Pastor Grant secured 52,500 pounds of food to be distributed to those in need, with the city distributing food to people who were on their list Tuesday through Thursday of this week.

Persons on the list were notified of pick-up dates and times. However, city employees hand delivered boxed food to the elderly in such areas as Golden Harvest and the Housing Authority on Third Street where many elderly residents reside.

The food and toys were boxed and put together by volunteers beginning this week at Clinton County Middle School due to the need for extra space.

Some 300 boxes of food were then transferred to Albany City Hall where they began distributing the food on Tuesday of this week, almost two weeks earlier than their usual delivery times prior to Christmas.

Much of the food was cold and needed to be delivered while it was still usable, after being delivered last Friday to CCMS.

The Operation Hometown Christmas program, operated in conjunction with the schools and this year along side the annual Christmas at Home, will distribute food and toys with the help of churches and schools beginning next week.

According Christy Nuetzman with the Clinton County Extension Service, who is spearheading that drive, distribution for that program to children and families who had filled out forms begsn Monday, December 14.

Nuetzman gave the Clinton County News a brief overview of the new program, Operation Hometown Christmas, how it began, how it progressed through this COVID-19 pandemic, and proud she is of the effort of the group working to provide much needed essentials to those within our community.

“Operation Hometown Christmas came about because we wanted all community organizations, churches, individuals, businesses, and groups to come together to serve families more effectively.

“Basically, all pockets of the community who served families at Christmas to come together to serve more families and avoid duplication. We started discussions in January and then things slowed down some once Covid hit but we started back with virtual meetings in October.

“We created an application for all families to complete so there would be one centralized database and then all sponsors could adopt from that main list. It has worked incredibly well for our first year. We’ve had about 15 community partners attend our regular virtual meetings and help process the plan.

“Everyone on the Operation Hometown Christmas team has done a fantastic job sharing the message of our collective intent and helping connect people as needed.

“The community has really gotten behind the collective effort as well. We’ve worked with about 70 individual and group sponsors. To date, applications turned in through the school’s FRYSC and OHC have resulted in right at 120 families being served throughout the community including 265 kids and 25 older adults.

“We are continuing to add families daily and sponsors are waiting to assist. It’s been so rewarding to see the community pull together to support Operation Hometown Christmas.

“It’s not about what individual or group gets credit, it’s about getting our families what they need during the holiday season and serving as many people as we can,” Nuetzman said Tuesday morning.

As for the longstanding Christmas At Home program, it has undergonw a few changes as well, including this year, people picking up boxes for persons other than themselves will have to sign a form stating who is to receive the supplies to make sure the people in need actually get the items, according to Bro. Grant.

Grant also noted that anyone who may make a donation of some type after the distribution is over this year can have that put on their account for next year.

Grant and Smith each expressed appreciation to Feed America and everyone who has donated to the programs in any way, with Smith especially expressing gratitude for the food donations and stressed that helping the elderly is always a top priority with the annual Christmas at Home program.

Final totals and a list of those who sponsored or donated to the Christmas programs this year will be published in an upcoming edition of the Clinton County News.


This holiday season, there are two giving programs in Albany and Clinton County working to make sure that many families and individuals who are struggling during these challenging times receive essential supplies.

The long standing Christmas at Home program, spearheaded by the City of Albany and the newly established Operation Hometown Christmas, have both been hard at work this week separating, packaging and beginning deliveries of food and other supplies.

In the top photo, Clinton County Extension Agent Christy Nuetzman, at left, is shown with other Operation Hometown Christmas volunteers Tuesday morning, getting supplies ready for delivery.

At right, and below, another team of volunteers and employees with the City of Albany Christmas at Home program, worked on Monday getting additional essentials ready for delivery.