CABOT — Cheryl Moore of Cabot has been volunteering with the Cabot Christmas Alliance for around 30 years. What keeps her coming back each year? It’s the people she helps during the holidays.
The Cabot Christmas Alliance, which has been around since the 1960s, allows families in the Cabot School District to have a Christmas dinner and gifts for their family each year.
A family has to live in the Cabot School District to qualify for a food box, Moore said.
“In mid-October, the school counselors send out a sign-up form,” she said. “People also find out about [the Cabot Christmas Alliance] by word of mouth.”
First Baptist Church of Cabot has another year-round ministry for assistance to low-income families called First Care, from which people can also find out about the Cabot Christmas Alliance.
Though the Cabot Christmas Alliance is centered at First Baptist Church of Cabot, other churches in the area volunteer their time to the yearly project.
“I’ve always felt if we had one centralized list [of needs], we can help more people, and if we all work together, we can help more,” Moore said. “That way, there isn’t as much duplication.”
Forms had to be returned to the church by Nov. 22, and families will find out if they are eligible by receiving an approval letter around Dec. 19.
“These forms let us know how many people to prepare for,” Moore said. “We get information about the children, which get sponsors who buy them gifts.”
When the Cabot Christmas Alliance started, food was brought to First Baptist Church, where it was sorted and packed. Other churches picked up boxes for families who needed assistance, and boxes were delivered.
Christmas for Kids, formed in 1976, ensures a good Christmas for children whose families are going through economic hardships, Moore said.
The Cabot Christmas Alliance and Christmas for Kids work together to make sure every child and family in the Cabot area can have the best holiday possible. The project received 501 (c)(3) nonprofit status in 2006.
Children’s sizes and wishes are also put on the qualification form.
This year, things will be a little
different, Moore said. Distribution for food boxes and toys will be at the National Guard Armory in Cabot.
“This is the most amazing undertaking I’ve ever been a part of,” said Tammy Tompkins, a Cabot Christmas Alliance volunteer.
Though the largest crowd will show up at the armory in Cabot, there are two other pickup locations in Ward at Ward First Baptist Church and at the Austin City Complex for those with addresses in or near those communities.
Moore said an approval letter must be in-hand to receive a box at the Ward and Austin locations.
Around 200 volunteers help with the project every year, Moore said, and they are planning for 1,000 boxes to be made for families this year.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” she said. “Around 300 people walk in [after the other boxes are distributed].”
Businesses, individuals and churches make monetary donations that make the project possible, she said. Organizations in the school district also collect food and money for the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit.
Each box provided to families includes a ham, green beans, corn, potatoes, mac and cheese, cranberry sauce, a bag of sugar, a cake mix, frosting, apples, oranges and a small bag of candy.
“It’s truly a blessing [to work with the alliance],” Moore said. “[On distribution day], families will come up to you crying because they can have a Christmas dinner because of this.”
Tompkins said her children volunteer with the Cabot Christmas Alliance each year and are able to see the need the area has for a ministry like this.
“My kids get to see what they don’t [normally] see. Sometimes you forget that the need is great,” she said.
Helen Jones, Moore’s mother, said she’s been helping with the ministry since the 1960s, when it started.
“This is a ministry that I think is worthwhile,” she said. “It’s another ministry we can be involved in to serve the Lord.”
Donations can be sent to the Cabot Christmas Alliance at P.O. Box 821, Cabot, AR 72023; or by calling (501) 628-2706. Volunteers are still needed for sorting and packing food boxes at 8 a.m. Dec. 14. Food-box distribution will be Dec. 21 at all three locations.
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or email@example.com.