Standing outside a Walmart store for hours on end can be chilly duty as November and December come along, but John Leyborne and his crew of volunteers do not seem to mind the cold. Each Friday and Saturday afternoon since the middle of October, as …
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Standing outside a Walmart store for hours on end can be chilly duty as November and December come along, but John Leyborne and his crew of volunteers do not seem to mind the cold. Each Friday and Saturday afternoon since the middle of October, as many as six volunteers have been posted to the parking lot of the Elizabeth Walmart, collecting food for the Elizabeth American Legion Post 82 Christmas Food Basket Drive.
Leyborne, who has chaired the food drive for the past three years, said most of his volunteers are from the American Legion post, but he also gets volunteers from around the community.
“Last weekend we had two from the Boy Scouts and two from the Girl Scouts working out here,” he said.
The Legion is accepting most shelf-stable items, but cannot accept anything packaged in glass or paper such as bags of flour or sugar. All of the food collected will not fit into a single basket, so volunteers will pack the canned goods, boxes of cereal, and packets of dry soups into three-box packages that will be distributed to approximately 85 Elbert County families the week before Christmas.
The three-box packages are capable of feeding a family for several days and contain canned vegetables and fruits, canned meats such as chicken and tuna, along with various dry goods such as boxed dinners. Additionally, each qualifying family will receive a frozen turkey along with everything they need to prepare a full Christmas dinner, including a 10-pound bag of potatoes, five pounds of onions, and fresh carrots and celery.
The collections began on the weekend of Oct. 16, and volunteers will be standing by each Friday and Saturday afternoon from noon to 4:30 through Dec. 5.
The food baskets will be distributed on Dec. 16 in the Walmart parking lot alonge with Toys for Tots and a clothing distribution. Families wishing to receive the food baskets may sign up through the Elizabeth Fire Department.
In addition to food, the American Legion is also accepting cash donations. The donated money will pay to complete the three-box packages and purchase food-only gift cards. Last year it was possible for the Legion to donate $1,400 to the United Methodist Church's Friend-to-Friend Weekend SnackPack program.
Each week the SnackPack program provides bags of food to about 25 families of Elbert County students who are at risk of running out of food over the weekend. Church volunteers purchase and assemble the SnackPacks and deliver them to local schools each Friday.
This year marks 90 years since the American Legion launched the food drive, which began in 1925.
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