Every holiday season for the past 50 years plus, a group of citizens has organized a community-wide effort to get Christmas baskets of food to local families in need.
In its current form, the group is known as the Community Benefit Committee, and it has nearly 20 members who are directly involved. But the work of this group spreads far beyond the committee's membership. There are numerous other volunteers, including dozens who help sort and box foodstuffs for distribution. The entire student body of Henkle Middle School conducts a "penny-drive" for the cause, and students at Columbia High School and Whitson Elementary School traditionally donate an impressive array of canned goods to keep the gift boxes well stocked.
In fact, there are so many different groups and businesses and organizations involved in this helpful endeavor that any attempt to list them all may have someone accidentally left out. And many who assist the cause do not usually get mentioned. For example, the local banks and the post offices accept the applications of those in need.
Without question, there is an impressive breadth of support for the Community Benefit. Besides all the volunteers and businesses that help to sponsor the event, everyone who buys a ticket to the Community Benefit Dinner on Dec. 14 is boosting the cause.
And take a look at the list of direct sponsors of the benefit dinner at the bottom of the advertisement on Page -- in this week's newspaper. That is an amazing cross-section of businesses in our community.
According to Wayne Carlock, the current president of the committee, the community's efforts to pull together to offer a helping hand for those who request it has been ongoing since 1945. In that year, grocery store owner Al Lermo made a point of donating food to assist those who did not have their own resources.
Even by itself, the longevity of the benefit campaign would be impressive, but it's magnified many times due to the number of those who get involved.
Last year, the campaign raised enough funds and canned goods to provide food baskets to 98 families in this community who needed extra during the holiday season. Roughly the same number of families are expected to be supplied with baskets this year.
One of the members of the organizing committee recently came up with a very appropriate phrase for this endeavor: "Community Unity." It fits.
There isn't room to list everyone and to thank everyone, but we want to say "THANKS" to all those contributing in this grand, noble effort to help their neighbors.