Bexley residents who would like to spread holiday cheer and help those in need can participate in the city's food drive, which continues through Friday, Dec. 22.

Individuals are invited to drop off food items at collection boxes in Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.; the Bexley Public Library, 2411 E. Main St.; Jeffrey Mansion, 165 N. Parkview Ave.; the Cassingham Complex main entrance, 326 S. Cassingham Road; and the Bexley Coffee Shop, 492 N. Cassady Ave.

The food drive will benefit the Developmental Assets Resource Network, a local nonprofit organization that offers support services to families in need, and the Little Free Pantries.

Bexley City Council member Mary Gottesman said she came up with the idea of organizing a drive after consulting with the local residents who coordinate the Little Free Pantries. The pantries enable anyone to take or leave food items in mounted, cabinet-style boxes throughout the community.

"We have such an abundance around us," Gottesman said. "It really broke my heart to think that some people depend on the food that people place in the Little Free Pantries. Bexley is such a giving community, so I thought, 'Let's have a food drive.' "

Divvying up items between the Little Free Pantries and DARN will enable the food drive to reach as many people as possible, Gottesman said.

"I knew DARN provided supplemental food for families (whose children attend the Bexley City Schools) over the summer," she said. "They're also delivering bags of food to help families over the long holiday break."

The most needed food items include cereal, peanut butter, jelly, crackers, ready-to-eat soups, canned meals such as ravioli and beef stew, tuna fish, ramen noodles, boxed or canned macaroni and cheese, fruits and vegetables, pasta and pasta sauce. Canned goods with pop tops are preferable.

"These are things that kids can help themselves to, if they're eating while their parents are at work," Gottesman said.

While Friday is the last official day of the food drive, she said, individuals can continue to leave items in the collection boxes at each location through the end of the year.