The third annual Season of Hope food drive, sponsored by Senator Jack Goodman, 29th District, is now underway, with several locations in Barry County accepting donations for the annual event.
The Season of Hope drive is designed to assist families in need by providing all of the groceries needed for a traditional Christmas dinner.
"While most children are dreaming of the gifts they will open on Christmas, we have children in our midst who are worried about when they will eat again," Goodman said. "I wish I could solve this problem for every child every day, but no one person can.
"We have great organizations helping out year round, and I encourage everyone to support them continuously," Goodman continued. "Working with a great team, our effort strives to provide something extra at Christmas."
The first Season of Hope drive provided food to more than 1,800 people, while last year, those numbers grew to over 2,400 people.
"Living in southwest Missouri, I am continually impressed by the generosity and compassion of our neighbors who are so willing to reach out and help others in true need," Goodman said. "I look forward to our team helping even more of our neighbors this year."
The Season of Hope food drive collects non-perishable items at donation boxes placed at area businesses, chambers of commerce and courthouses across the 29th Senatorial District. Donations and funds are also accepted by corporate donors and individuals to purchase the remaining perishable items needed for the drive.
"One hundred percent of the funds and food collected go toward meals distributed by this all-volunteer effort," Goodman said.
Goodman and his team partner with a number of hunger-relief organizations throughout the 29th Senatorial District to identify families in need of assistance and to coordinate distribution days.
In recent years, families receiving food from the Season of Hope drive have received: either half a turkey, a whole chicken or a six-pound bag of chicken fillets; a box of stuffing; a 15-pound bag of potatoes or boxed mashed potatoes; fresh or canned sweet potatoes; canned vegetables; boxed macaroni and cheese; and a variety of other groceries.
The weight of food distributed last year was in excess of 15,000 pounds.
Throughout its duration, the Season of Hope has benefitted from the guidance and work of the steering committee composed of community leaders from every county in the 29th District. Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley has again agreed to chair the steering committee and coordinate this year's activities.
"It is always a blessing to see the outpouring of generosity that helps make the Season of Hope a great success," Presley said. "The need is still great, and we are working hard to make sure this year's food drive can help meet those needs across the 29th Senate District."
Season of Hope will distribute food at multiple drop points throughout the district approximately one week before Christmas.
Collection boxes are already in place for the 2011 Christmas season.
In Barry County, they are located at:
* First State Bank, 106 E. Cleveland in Monett.
* First State Bank, Walmart branch at 885 Highway 60 in Monett.
* First State Bank at Highway C and Kay Avenue in Purdy.
* First State Bank at 98 Main St. in Cassville.
* Ramey Supermarket at 91 Main St. in Cassville.
* Cassville Chamber of Commerce at 504 Main St. in Cassville.
* Barry Electric Cooperative at 4015 Main St. in Cassville.
* Barry County Courthouse at 700 Main St. in Cassville.
* Shell Knob Chamber of Commerce at 39 and Highway YY in Shell Knob.
* Country Fresh Market at 24988 Highway 39 in Shell Knob.
* Kornerstone at 20935 Farm Road 1252 in Shell Knob.
Those interested in donating, volunteering or receiving assistance should contact Goodman's office at 573-751-2234 or 417-466-7937.