Clover Area Assistance Center has a lot of mouths to feed this holiday season.
Thankfully, it has help.
Boy Scout troops recently delivered more than 8,500 pounds of food through an annual canned food drive. More than 40 volunteers from River Hills Community Church, Relevant Church and Boy Scouts spent seven hours sorting and stocking food.
The River Hills Community Church youth group put together 200 bags of items needed for a Thanksgiving meal.
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“These bags will be distributed, along with turkeys, to CAAC families,” said CAAC Executive Director Karen van Vierssen. In addition, CAAC is providing turkeys and fresh desserts for the Boys & Girls Clubs holiday family dinner in Clover, she said.
A corporate grant covered the cost of turkeys for Thanksgiving, allowing the center to focus on its next major event. “We are looking for donations of hams of all sizes, canned or fresh, for Christmas distribution,” van Vierssen said.
The center also needs nonperishable food items such as pasta, rice, spaghetti sauce, tuna, chicken, soups, black-eyed peas and fruit as well as navy, pinto and kidney beans. Holiday food distribution will continue through Dec. 18.
Troop 365 of All Saints Catholic Church in Lake Wylie has fewer than a dozen Scouts but brought in almost 3,000 pounds of food and personal items for donation.
Assistant Scoutmaster Tracy Snow said the food drive helps with service hours and Scout goals, but the main hope is the impression it will leave on the boys.
“The advantage of doing it is it stays local,” Snow said.
CAAC also has begun its annual mail campaign, its largest fundraiser, seeking monetary donations. The center is changing to a new online database, CharityTracker. CAAC will be closed for a couple of weeks within the next two months to transfer client data and train volunteers.
“Other service providers, churches and nonprofits were encouraged to consider participation in Charity Tracker, so that all providers could share information on who is receiving and requesting assistance,” van Vierssen said.
For now, the focus remains on feeding residents during the holidays. CAAC cross-checks names with Clover School District to make sure it isn’t duplicating efforts on Thanksgiving turkeys. CAAC is providing 155 turkeys to client families.
“The schools do not provide a Christmas meal, so we will have between 340 and 360 CAAC families that we would like to be able to give turkeys or hams to for Christmas,” van Vierssen said.
Van Vierssen said she isn’t worried whether the community will help.
“We do have funding from a local foundation that we can use for the purchase of hams, but if more hams are donated, those funds can go a lot further when used for other food purchases throughout the year,” she said, “especially during the times of year when general donations slow down.”
For more information on CAAC, visit cloverareaassistance.org.