Christmas is a season of giving.

Christmas is a season of giving.

Volunteers participating in the annual Community Christmas Mission Project at Boulevard Presbyterian Church help make sure the holidays aren't a season of wanting for families in need across central Ohio.

Boxes containing nonperishable food along with a gift card to a grocery store to cover the cost of perishable foods were delivered Dec. 18 to 305 families.

"Boulevard is the host site, but this is truly a communitywide project," said Becky Elliott, who serves as project coordinator with Allyson Engdahl.

"That's what makes this such a special project," she said.

Boulevard held a five-week food drive for the project and church members also raised funds toward the purchase of gift cards, Elliott said.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Upper Arlington serves as a partner in coordinating the project, she said.

"It's become a very meaningful project for our church," said Denise Meyer, who coordinates Holy Trinity's effort with Karen Eicher.

Church members donated about 200 toys, baked and frosted more than 1,000 cookies, and contributed about 10 to 15 boxes of food for the project, Meyer said.

"On top of that, we also contributed about $700 in cash donations for the purchase of gift cards," she said.

Other churches and organizations that sponsor or participate in the project include the Tri-Village Sertoma, Northwest Kiwanis, Tri-Village Lions Club, Northwest Christian Church, Schmidt & Associates, Buddhist Center of Ohio, the Grandview Heights City School District, Boy Scout Troop 73 and Cub Scout Troop 28.

"Some of the groups that help us like to focus on one area," Elliott said. "The Buddhist Center gave us over 100 jars of peanut butter and Northwest Christian gave us most of the pasta we're providing. But we couldn't do what we do each year without all of the groups and volunteers that help us."

The families who are assisted are referred by several Columbus-area agencies, Elliott said.

"The service area for our project is within the I-270 corridor," she said.

That provides an important lesson for the youngsters who volunteer, Meyer said.

"Since we're delivering packages to families who are within the I-270 corridor, they're able to see that there are families who are in need really close to home," she said.

The boxes delivered to families are filled with enough food to get them through the holiday season, Elliott said.

"We used to try to just give them enough food for Christmas Day, but now we're trying to cover their needs for the entire holiday break (from school)," said volunteer Michael Schmidt, co-owner of Schmidt & Associates.

Many of the families have children who receive free or reduced-price lunches at school, he said.

"During the holiday break, that meal isn't provided, and that's an extra burden on a family that's struggling," Schmidt said. "We can help make sure their children are fed nourishing meals and they don't have to spend the money they need for rent on that extra meal."

Along with the food and gift card, a toy is provided for each child in a family, Elliott said.

Volunteers taped and labeled boxes Dec. 16, packed and assembled boxes Dec. 17 and delivered the packages Dec. 18.

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