Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TOP STORY >> Cabot Christmas Alliance spreads joy

By JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer

Although its nonprofit status is only about three years old, the Cabot Christmas Alliance has existed in one form or another for decades.

This year with its partner organization, Christmas for Kids, it will be doing again what it always has – helping make the holiday better for those in need by providing food for families and gifts for children.

Last year, the two organizations helped 675 families, but because of the economy, the prediction for this year is 800.

Volunteers are needed Saturday, Dec. 12 for sorting and packing and Saturday, Dec. 19 for distributing them.

Volunteers are asked to arrive at the Knight’s/Alford building on West Main Street by 8 a.m. on both days, but help will be accepted any time during the day.

The distribution center for Cabot and Austin addresses will be the Knight’s/Alford building. Ward addresses will pick up at the Family Life Center at First Baptist Church at Third and Scott streets.

Those who have signed up for a food box will receive a letter in the mail by Dec. 17 informing them of the time for pick up and where to enter the flow of traffic in Cabot. They are asked to bring the letter and not arrive early. All boxes are similar and every family will receive a food box.

Cheryl Moore, secretary treasurer of the Cabot Christmas Alliance, provides this history of how the organization got its start and where it is today.

The Cabot Christmas Alliance has been helping families in the Cabot area since the late 1960s. Back then, food was brought to First Baptist Church where it was sorted and packed. The participating churches would then pick up the boxes for the families they were helping and deliver them.

When the North Lonoke County Ministerial Alliance was formed in the mid 1970s, Ed Caldwell was invited to a meeting and asked if he would oversee the food distribution.

About 1990, Dan Terry, a zone manager for Kroger, offered Caldwell a trailer of food donated by Kroger. Caldwell accepted and the donation has been made every year since.

In 1997, the North Lonoke County Ministerial Alliance dissolved, but the Christmas food distribution continued with Dan Stitt, pastor at Hope Presbyterian Church, and Caldwell in charge.

When Stitt left the Cabot area in 2004, Caldwell enlisted the help of several longtime volunteers. On Oct. 31, 2006, a group of volunteers met and organized the Cabot Christmas Alliance and filed the paperwork seeking 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, which has been granted. This means all donations to the Cabot Christmas Alliance are tax deductible.

Articles of procedure were drawn up confirming the Cabot Christmas Alliance is a combination of churches, schools, the business community and individuals.

A board of trustees was chosen with Caldwell elected as president. Other board members are Moore, Win Callison, Norma Crutchfield, Tina Edens, Bill Holden, Helen Jones, Dan Terry, Max Trummel and Terena Woodruff.

Numerous businesses, individuals, and churches make monetary donations. In addition, several Cabot school organizations collect food and money.

Typically, food boxes will have a variety of canned goods, a sack of sugar, cake mix and frosting, a bag of potatoes, apples and oranges, and a small bag of assorted candy. This year a ham will be included where in the past a frozen hen was given.

Last year, more than 200 volunteers helped with sorting, packing and distribution.

Mail requests to Cabot Christmas Alliance, P.O. Box 821, Cabot or call 501 628-2706 for more information about volunteering, making a donation or to receive a food box.