Grove City, Jackson Township holiday drives continue amid pandemic

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
Morgan Geddes and Brooke Geddes help with the sorting for the White Christmas food drive that serves families in Grove City, Jackson Township, Urbancrest, Galloway, Harrisburg and Orient.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has caused many things to be canceled or postponed in 2020, but the list will not include the White Christmas food drive. 

"There's a rising need for our program this year because of the pandemic," project coordinator Patrick Fahy said. "It's even more important for the White Christmas program to continue." 

Families can sign up to receive a food box by registering online through Friday, Dec. 4 at cognitoforms.com/JacksonTownship2/WhiteChristmasRegistration2020. 

In-person registration can be done from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Dec. 4 at the Jackson Township Fire Administration Office, 3650 Hoover Road.  

The White Christmas food program is open to any resident with a financial need who lives in Grove City, Jackson Township, Urbancrest, Galloway, Harrisburg or Orient. 

"We will be serving all the people who sign up through the Jackson Township Fire Department. We intend to serve everybody in need," Fahy said. "We just may not be able to provide families with as many food items as we have in past years." 

Twenty-two schools in southwest Franklin County were planning to conduct food drives to collect items for the White Christmas project, he said. 

When South-Western City Schools decided to switch back to 100% virtual learning Nov. 20, many of those schools had not begun their food drives, Fahy said. 

"We're not sure how much food we're going to be able to get from the schools this year," he said. "But we will be able to provide families with perishable food items because a number of service and fraternal organizations have stepped up to help fill the void." 

The food boxes will include such things as margarine, bread, a whole fryer chicken, a quarter ham, a 10-pound bag of potatoes, citrus, a dozen eggs and a package of bacon, Fahy said. Non-perishable items will include soup, canned fruit and vegetables, stuffing mix and a box of cereal. 

"Last year we passed out about 10,000 pounds of food to 158 families who signed up for our program," Fahy said. "We expect the number of registrants to rise, and we will be able to provide boxes to up to 225 families this year." 

The White Christmas food drive is a project of the Southwest Christian Fellowship, a consortium of churches in southwest Franklin County. The organization previously was known as the Southwest Christian Ministerial Association. 

Even with their buildings closed due to remote learning, some schools have been able to collect food items, and volunteers will be picking up those donations Dec. 9-11, Fahy said. 

Sorting items and packing the boxes will be done at Grove City United Methodist Church (Purple Door Church), 2684 Columbus St. in Grove City from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 11-12 and 14-18. 

"We will be following the COVID guidelines set by the Ohio Department of Health, so we will be providing masks, gloves and sanitizers for our volunteers and limiting each session to no more than 25 participants at a time, maintaining six feet of distance," Fahy said. 

Volunteers can sign up online at facebook.com/WhiteChristmasFoodDrive or by calling 614-875-3322, extension 309. 

Volunteers should visit the White Christmas Facebook page to check for any cancellations or schedule updates. 

Families will be able to pick up their food boxes on Saturday, Dec. 19, at Grove City United Methodist Church, Fahy said.  

Registration open for toy drive 

Online registration for the Jackson Township's Firefighters for Kids toy drive also is open through Friday, Dec. 4, at cognitoforms.com/JacksonTownship2/FirefightersforKidsRegistration2020 for Jackson Township residents, including those living in Grove City and Urbancrest.

In-person registration for the toy drive can be done from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Thursday, Dec. 3, at the Jackson Township Fire Administration Office. 

Donations of new, unwrapped toys are being accepted through Dec. 15 at all Jackson Township fire stations. 

More information about the toy drive is available at fire.admin@jacksontwp.org or by calling 614-875-5588. 

Cram the Cruiser 

The pandemic also has altered plans for the sixth annual Cram the Cruiser holiday gift drive, a program sponsored by the city of Grove City and Grove City Division of Police that benefits children under the care of Franklin County Children Services. 

Unlike past years, Cram the Cruiser will not collect toys. 

Instead, residents will be able to drop off donations of gift cards, new books, hats, scarves and gloves at the drive-thru event, which will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, at Grove City United Methodist Church. 

"Franklin County Children Services is asking us not to collect toys because of the concern of passing the COVID virus to the youngsters they serve," said William Vedra, deputy city administrator/safety director. 

"A lot of teen volunteers help out on the day of the gift drive and we want them to be safe, too," said Don Walters, Grove City’s public information officer. 

Since 2015, Cram the Cruiser has collected more than 29,000 gifts, gift cards and cash donations totaling more than $4,000, according to the city. 

More information about Cram the Cruiser is available at grovecityohio.gov or by calling 614-277-1918.  

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