For more than 90 years, citizens of Cleveland and Bradley County have been participating in a longstanding tradition to provide neighbors who find themselves lacking during the holiday season, a basket full of food for a Christmas dinner.
For more than 90 years, the people of Cleveland and Bradley County have been participating in a longstanding tradition to provide neighbors who find themselves lacking during the holiday season, a basket full of food for a Christmas dinner.
The program, more widely known as the William Hall Rodgers Christmas Basket Fund, will continue with that tradition this year, hoping to provide 900 food baskets to local families who find themselves struggling to make ends meet. Last year, the William Hall Rodgers Christmas Basket Fund welcomed the addition of United Way of the Ocoee Region to help lead the efforts surrounding the program.
In an effort to promote empowerment, stability, and independence for the Ocoee Region, United Way has incorporated some new elements which include additional resources on site for families who are signing up to receive food.
According to Danielle Seals, director of Marketing and Communications for the United Way of the Ocoee Region, one additional resource is Ocoee Connect, the United Way’s resource referral line. Seals said information collected by Ocoee Connect will be used to help connect those in need with resources. She added the United Way is also helping “to digitize the sign-up process” so that people can be better served in the future.
“We often see that food is rarely the only problem, and we want to surround these families with holistic support to see them reach a place of stability,” pointed out Matt Ryerson, president and CEO of United Way of the Ocoee Region. “We’d like to see this program grow from a kind-hearted annual hand out to a program that helps transform lives.”
Seals noted “there is definitely a time and a place for crisis need” but “the other side of that coin is development and that is really where our work lies.”
Registration is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 5, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Museum Center at 5ive Points (200 Inman St. E., Cleveland TN 37311). One member per address is allowed to register and must bring two forms of identification. The baskets will be delivered in December prior to Christmas.
Funds are currently being accepted for the program and can be sent or dropped off at the following locations, Attn: William Hall Rodgers:
• First Tennessee Bank (P.O. Box 3566, Cleveland, TN 37320-3566 or 3870 Keith St. N.W., Cleveland TN 37312)
• Cooke’s Food Store (3400 Keith St. N.W, Cleveland TN 37312)
• United Way of the Ocoee Region (85 Ocoee St. S.E., Cleveland TN 37311).
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