Independence County 4-H spearheads decades-old holiday food donation program
By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Nov. 29, 2018
- Annual food donation program feeds about 1,000 families
- Effort focuses community resources throughout Independence County
- No income guidelines for recipients
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BATESVILLE, Ark. – As the December holidays approach, members of Independence County 4-H will be working to continue a decades-old tradition of charitable giving within their community.
Nathan Reinhart, staff chair for the Independence County Cooperative Extension Service office, said the Christmas Bring Hope project originated among Batesville community members in the early 1980’s.
“They asked 4-H to join them about five years ago, to oversee, coordinate and conduct the program,” Reinhart said. “A lot of their members were getting older in age.”
The program combines efforts from volunteer and professional fire districts, the local newspaper, community college and various industries to provide about 1,000 boxes of food to families and need throughout the county.
“There’s no income guidelines,” Reinhart said. “If people say they need a box, we provide a box.”
Beginning Nov. 30, the volunteers will begin operations at the Independence County Fairgrounds, which donates the use of a building for the week of production. Volunteers begin assembling about 1,000 boxes, which are donated by Concord Specialty Corrugated, a local box company. Applications for food boxes are printed several times throughout the month by the Batesville Daily Guardeach November, and applicants mail the applications back to volunteers at University of Arkansas at Batesville Community College.
UACCB volunteers compile the names of applicants, then distributes lists to volunteer or professional firefighters in districts throughout the county.
On Dec. 2, the operation will begin collecting food donations in Batesville and other populated areas throughout Independence County. Volunteer drivers, many of whom belong to the Kiwanis Club, take the donated items to the fairgrounds. Schools around the county will gather foods donated through food drives, and about $15,000 worth of additional food items will be purchased with cash donations for the boxes.
Historically, major donations have come from Flowers Baking Co., Ozark Mountain Poultry, the Poultry Federation and others.
Rinehart said a typical donation box contains about $60-$70 worth of food, and contains, at a minimum, several canned goods, cereal, flour, mixed fruit, potatoes, a loaf of bread.
The food will be delivered to recipients Saturday, Dec. 8. Over the course of one week, about 500 volunteers will donate two to four hours of their time to the Christmas Brings Hope project, Rinehart said.
To learn more about the Christmas Brings Hope project, or to donate money or food items, contact Reinhart at 870-793-8840 or Ted Hall at 870-612-7877.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.