Groups rally to spread Christmas cheer in Queens


Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Liverpool Salvation Army is among a fleet of volunteer groups in Queens County working to bring a little joy to those in need, and once again is spearheading the Christmas Cheer Box campaign.

The Christmas Cheer Box campaign has been running for more than 40 years and is led by the Salvation Army with members of churches, the food banks and community groups helping out to provide food over the Christmas holiday.

Cheer Boxes include a complete Christmas dinner with turkey and all the fixing, plus gifts for the children. Each year, the Cheer Box committee also targets a specific item to go in the boxes. This year, their goal is to give a pair of pajamas to all the children.

The program encompasses Queens County and just over the border on the eastern side of Shelburne County – where volunteers work with members from the Lions Club. Last year, 169 families were helped in the Liverpool area, close to 40 in the Caledonia area, and another 67 families in Shelburne County.

If you need a helping hand to make Christmas a little bit brighter this year, then you could qualify for a hamper - one per family. This year's registration for the Christmas Cheer Box will take place November 12 and 13 from 10 a.m. to noon, 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at the Salvation Army Community Church located on Main Street in Liverpool.

Organizers request that only one representative per family attend the registration, and say masks must be worn. Potential registrants need to provide proof and information on a number of fronts including recent income, up-to-date rent, a mailing and civic address, personal ID for every family member and children's clothing and footwear sizes.

Pick-up day for the hampers will be December 22 at the Salvation Army church. Times will be given out at the time of registration.

Kettle concerns

Much of the money that comes in for this project, and the many others that the Salvation Army is a part of, comes from kettle donations at Christmas time. This year, with COVID-19 restrictions however, kettles will only be allowed to be placed at certain locations, and none of the kettles can be manned.

However, along with donating at the kettles, there will be Christmas giving trees set up in various locations, and an opportunity to donate money or toys at the Salvation Army Church, which is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, contact the Salvation Army church at 902-354-3265.

Food services

The Community Food Resource Network (CFRN) serving North Queens, and the Queens County Food Bank (QCFB) in Liverpool, are supporting the Cheer Box again this year, and they are ready if anyone needs extra help over Christmas and throughout the winter.

Folks in need are encouraged to register with the Salvation Army and its Cheer Box project first, before going to the food bank for Christmas food. A list of recipients will be passed between the Salvation Army and the food banks, so no duplication will occur.

Currently, the two food banks have a number of projects going on to keep the shelves and people filled up, including a hamper project.

Dianne Huskins, coordinator at CFRN, received a grant of more than $18,000 a few months ago. This has enabled her to put together hampers of fresh produce and fresh meat and get them out to her clients and people in North Queens.

Another project CFRN has planned for December is a reverse advent calendar. The calendar suggests a food item that can be donated each day in December, then dropped off at CFRN headquarters at 9866 Highway 8 in Caledonia on Christmas Eve. It will then be distributed in the following days.

Calendars can be seen on the CFRN Facebook page or picked up at Clover Farms.

The Kiwanis Club is helping out by building a can Christmas tree this year. Cans can be dropped off at the Five Girls Baking bakery and store located on Liverpool's Main Street from November 17 to December 20, during regular operating hours. The cans will in turn be donated to the food bank.

Meanwhile, volunteers at the Queens County Food Bank are undertaking several projects over the next two months to help the 30 to 50 clients they serve each week.

Beginning November 12, they will be selling tickets on a Christmas tree filled with lottery tickets.

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