The continued outpouring of local support for the Carroll Christmas Fund proves Carroll County didn’t need to be visited by Charles Dickens’ three Christmas spirits to know mankind is everyone’s business. Organizer DeAnn Smith noted the Fund, which was taken over by Dawn Auction around 1992, delivered 64 food boxes that year.
Economic pressure continues to be a “Scrooge” for local families with the Fund delivering 460 food boxes in 2015 and anticipating more than 500 this holiday season.
“We are a nonprofit organization which provides food boxes and toys for needy families,” said Smith. “Our hope is it will become less but with the local economy so hard hit, it has continued to grow. The truth is, it (the Fund) is a huge community effort. For instance, we couldn’t do this without the support of our local Department of Social Services. They do this amazing above-and-beyond-their-normal job for us to get help to these families. That doesn’t happen everywhere.”
Smith also praised the volunteer efforts of local schools, industries, fire departments and churches who consistently step up and help collecting toys and food and provide the “elves” which sort and assemble the food boxes. She stressed that every dollar collected for the Fund goes to local families and there is no administrative cost.
“Everything stays within Carroll County. It stays local and you know where (your donations) are going,” Smith said “Every year we have this bunch of volunteers who really step it up. It seems like everyone has their job and they just go to it.”
She said the rising need caused the Fund to outgrow its traditional staging area at Veterans Of Foreign Wars Post 1115.
Virginia Produce stepped up to provide space for the Fund volunteers to sort and assemble the food boxes as well as toy and additional food storage. Smith said the ability to store toys and food ahead of the holiday season really helps the effort over the long run.
The Carroll Christmas Fund accepts monetary donations and canned, non-perishable foods as well as new and unwrapped toys. The Hillsville First Baptist Church’s coat drive also dovetails with the Fund. She said more than 600 coats were sent to the DSS last year with other individuals, local businesses and industries joining this effort.
Smith said the Fund donations may be dropped off at Dawn Auction at 235 West Stuart Drive in Hillsville or at Virginia Produce during business hours. Food box assembly day is set for December 15 at Virginia Produce beginning at 6 p.m. and delivery day is set for December 17 from Virginia Produce. Volunteers are welcome. She said toy donations will be accepted until December 9 and food donations by December 14. Monetary donations will be accepted at any time. New coats may be left at Dawn Auction Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and used coats can be dropped of at “The Other Cleaners” in Hillsville, located beneath Farm Bureau.
“We have volunteers who come to help and tell us without the Fund they’d have no Christmas. They have been on the receiving end as well as the other end. Boxing and sorting night is a huge community get-together. We had a little change in the assembly line last year but it is still a time of community and fellowship. People come just for this. It’s part of their Christmas. We call it organized chaos. We don’t keep it too orderly. People like the chaos.”
Delivery is typically handled by local fire and rescue squads and fire departments. One other constant remains for the Christmas Fund. According to Smith, the Fund continues to get calls from those who haven’t heard of it and its motto, “Helping Those Less Fortunate.”The Carroll Christmas Fund is on Facebook. More information about the group can be obtained there on the Internet or by calling 276-728-9181.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.