Two local projects that provide holiday cheer to needy families in southwest Franklin County are working together to make it easier for families to sign up.

Two local projects that provide holiday cheer to needy families in southwest Franklin County are working together to make it easier for families to sign up.

Registration for the Southwest Christian Ministerial Association's White Christmas holiday food program will take place Monday, Nov. 28, through Dec. 2 at Jackson Township Fire Station 202, 3650 Hoover Road in Grove City.

While registering to receive a food box for the holidays, families also can sign up for the annual Firefighters for Kids program, which provides families in need with toys for children from infancy through 12 years of age.

"The two projects are separate, but the fire department will be taking registration for us this year," said Patrick Fahy, White Christmas coordinator.

"It's important that families realize that is the only way to register for our program this year," he said.

The White Christmas food program is open to residents in the 43123, 43126 and 43146 ZIP codes with financial need.

"Our mission is to brighten the spirits of needy families in our area, so that they have food to eat and don't have to worry about that during the holiday season," Fahy said.

Over the next three weeks, students at 19 area schools will collect non-perishable food items, he said.

"The students really get enthusiastically involved," Fahy said. "Last year, we had about 38,000 items donated."

The ministerial association uses proceeds from its fundraising activities and donations to purchase perishable food items, including whole fryer chickens, potatoes, fruit, bread, butter, bacon, eggs and a ham, for the food boxes, he said.

"We provide families with enough food to last for a week," Fahy said.

Volunteers will collect the donated food from each school on Dec. 20 and 21. The sorting of food items will take place at 6 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help School cafeteria, 3750 Broadway. Boxes will be packed at 6 p.m. Dec. 22 in the cafeteria.

Food will be distributed from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 23 behind Our Lady of Perpetual Help School.

"Any leftover food we have left will be donated to the Grove City Food Pantry," Fahy said. "Last year, we had about 10,000 items we were able to donate."

Families with children are encouraged to help with the sorting and packing of food, he said.

"It allows the students to see what happens with the food they helped collect," Fahy said. "It makes their participation in the food drive even more meaningful and personal."

The Firefighters for Kids program is operated locally by Jackson Township Professional Firefighters Local 2672, said Greg Rudduck, toy drive coordinator and firefighter-paramedic.

"Each year, we provide toys to about 350 kids in about 150 to 200 families," he said. "Every child should have a toy for Christmas."

The program is open to residents in Jackson Township, Grove City and Urbancrest, Rudduck said.

Donations of new toys, in their original packaging, can be dropped off until Dec. 24 at any Jackson Township fire station.

"We have a particular need for toys for older children, ages 10 to 12," Rudduck said.

To register for a White Christmas food box, families must provide a valid photo identification, proof of current residency, phone number, names and ages of family members, reason for the request and, if referred, the name of the church. Additional information is available at facebook.com/WhiteChristmasFoodDrive.

Photo identification, proof of residency and children's birth certificates are needed to register for the toy drive. Anyone with questions about the toy drive should call 614-875-5588.

afroman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekAfroman