Volunteers and area schools, businesses and organizations will come together to provide food for more than 225 families over the holidays.

Volunteers and area schools, businesses and organizations will come together to provide food for more than 225 families over the holidays.

The Southwest Christian Ministerial Association will sponsor the White Christmas holiday food program for needy residents who live in Grove City, Harrisburg and Orient ZIP code areas. Coordinator Patrick Fahy said the program has been running for more than 30 years.

"This is a total volunteer effort," he said.

This year, 16 schools including area parochial schools and the South-Western City School district will participate, Fahy said. The schools will collect canned and boxed items such as pastas, boxed meals, canned vegetables and cereal. Schools also donate money.

Annually, volunteers prepare 225 boxes of food for families, a number based on both space and community need, Fahy said. Smaller boxes also are put together for the area's retirement community. The boxes are donated by local businesses.

The Ministerial Association purchases perishable items from a roughly $3,000 budget that comes through donations.

Any excess food is donated to the Grove City Food Pantry. Last year, about 18,000 items went to the pantry, Fahy said.

The boxes are filled with the canned and boxed items from the schools. Each family also receives a pound of bacon, a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, five pounds of potatoes, a whole chicken and fresh fruit.

Donated toys and clothes are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Last year, about 400 people volunteered a total 1,600 hours for the collection, boxing and distribution, Fahy said.

The whole program is about helping people when they "truly, truly need some help," Fahy said.

"It's very touching and gratifying," he said.

Those who would like to receive a food box may call Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church at (614) 875-3322, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Food boxes will be distributed between noon and 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 22 at the school cafeteria at 3730 Broadway. A picture ID and verification of current address is required when the food box is picked up. For more information, call the church.