Christmas in July seeks donations of food, school supplies
by Marie Nesmith
Jun 17, 2012 | 1877 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Annie Elrod loads the trunk of a car for 86-year-old Eunice Burns, a recipient of the North Bartow Community Services’ food pantry.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Annie Elrod loads the trunk of a car for 86-year-old Eunice Burns, a recipient of the North Bartow Community Services’ food pantry. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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With North Bartow Community Services' food pantry currently half-stocked, the Christmas in July campaign will provide a lifeline of support during the summer months. Organized by the United Way of Bartow County in partnership with the Georgia Department of Labor's Employer Committee and Bartow Collaborative, the food drive will help replenish the dwindling shelves at three area food banks.

"With the summer months, we see a lot of families," said Kay House, director for North Bartow Community Services. "The kids are out of school so they were usually fed two meals at school [generally with free or reduced offerings]. So it creates a strain for the family to try to feed them. So we see a lot of families during the summer when the kids are out of school that we don't see the rest of the year.

"Even the families that get food stamps, when the children are out of school for the summer, the food stamps just don't last because [for example] they [may] have teenagers that eat a lot. This [food drive] will help us keep our food pantry stocked during the summer [because] we really need the food."

Formed in October 1984, the nonprofit provided 10,479 residents of Adairsville, Rydal, White and Kingston with various social services, such as food, clothing and assistance with energy bills and purchasing medicine. Averaging about 30 new clients a month this year, North Bartow Community Services -- 2397 Hall Station Road in Adairsville -- is serving about 380 people a month with food products.

"Food might be our biggest service that we provide," House said. "Second would be energy for families. But food, because a lot of people if they pay their bills, sometimes they don't have money left for food.

"What we try to do is give them food so they can make it. We have some families that are on very low income ... [who] come every month to our food pantry [and we] try to help them get through the month because they couldn't make it otherwise."

Along with North Bartow Community Services, the Christmas in July campaign will assist The Salvation Army and New Beginnings Food Outreach.

"[Over the summer], there's more need really in the community," said Cynthia Ball, office administrator and special events coordinator for the United Way of Bartow County. "We've been out to visit [the nonprofits] in the last few months with their allocations and they say they're more and more overwhelmed with people coming [for assistance]. It's mostly dry, staple goods [that they need] -- [items] that would have some shelf life."

Through July 29, the Christmas in July campaign is requesting people donate various nonperishable food items, including peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, tuna fish, canned meats, canned vegetables, canned fruit, cereal, baby food and baby formula.

In addition to food, the drive also is collecting school supplies. Area residents are encouraged to donate items at participating collection sites, including the United Way of Bartow County, 140 Douglas St., Suite 104, Cartersville, and The Daily Tribune News, 251 S. Tennessee St., Cartersville. To obtain donation boxes, organizations need to call the United Way at 770-386-1677.

Needed school materials include an eight-count box of color pencils, 24-count box of crayons, No. 2 pencils, erasers, safety scissors, book bags, 12-inch ruler with centimeters, glue sticks and hand sanitizer.

The donated school supplies will be distributed during the Bartow Give a Kid a Chance event on July 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In order to receive the free items, such as school supplies, a jeans voucher and T-shirt, and services -- haircuts, and dental, vision and hearing screenings -- parents will need to register their children July 14 from 9 a.m. to noon. The three registration locations also will serve as the distribution sites. They include Cartersville Civic Center, Adairsville High School and Woodland High School.

In 2011, Bartow Give a Kid a Chance -- which is supported by various organizations, such as churches, businesses, the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter and the Christmas in July campaign -- served 1,400 children. This year, the effort's goal is to equip 2,000 disadvantaged youth, who could be entering pre-K through 12th grade.

"A child who has less stress at school will perform much more than a child that has the stressers," said Tina Grubbs, executive director for the Bartow Collaborative. "And the children who we see through this program typically have multiple factors within their homes that attribute to stress.

"So they come to school with all of that over their head and with them. Just the fact that [through Bartow Give a Kid a Chance] they are fully equipped to perform once they get in that [school] door, that is what we are striving for. ... This is giving them at least that one bit of positive reinforcement so they can perform at school."

For more information about Bartow Give a Kid a Chance, call 678-719-2165 or email bartowgiveakidachance@gmail.com. To make a tax-deductible financial contribution, which will help purchase needed items, mail a check to Bartow Give a Kid a Chance, 475 E. Main St., No. 218, Cartersville, GA 30121. Further details on the Christmas in July campaign can be obtained by contacting the United Way at 770-386-1677.