The Sallisaw 4-H Club and 4-H leader Rita Holmes have kicked off their annual 4-H Food Drive.
The food drive is in its 20th year.
Holmes and her son, Jeff, follow in the footsteps of her late husband, Kenneth, who was also a 4-H leader.
Rita explained, “Kenneth wanted to take care of the kids. He said he knew what it was like to go hungry.”
So Kenneth Holmes and the 4-H Club began collecting food for families who were not as well off as others for the holidays. But it wasn’t just a holiday dinner Kenneth wanted the families to have. Rita explained.
“He wanted to give them food to get them through the holiday week, stuff the kids could fix for themselves, like Pop Tarts, peanut butter and crackers, mac and cheese, Ramen noodles, pancakes and syrup.”
Of course the families, nominated for the program by the schools, also got the makings for a holiday dinner, including a ham. The food drive only solicits non-perishable foods and money. The money is used to buy the perishable items right before the food boxes are distributed for the holidays. The money goes through the 4-H Club and the OSU Extension office, so donors can get the tax credit and so all monies are accounted for. Rita said she wants donors to know that all donations are on the up and up.
Last year the 4-H Club Food Drive provided food for 115 families for the Thanksgiving week and for 115 families for the Christmas vacation.
“That’s the biggest year we’ve ever had,” Rita said, delight in her voice. She continued, “This was Kenneth’s pet project. I know he would have been thrilled.”
That means the 4-H Club must collect enough food to give families of five or less one big box of food and larger families two boxes of food stuffs.
To reach that goal, Rita, now age 73, has begun reaching out to donors. She telephones and pounds the streets, asking previous donors to help out again.
“I don’t think anyone has ever told me ‘No,’” she said.
Area schools are also holding canned food drives. The schools are Gans, Central, Brushy, Muldrow and Sallisaw. Donations of canned and packaged food and money can also be made at Armstrong Bank in Sallisaw.
When all is collected, the 4-H members, the Holmes family, and volunteers will package the food for the families the week before the schools dismiss for the holiday vacations, and the schools and teachers will distribute the boxes.
Rita said, “I hope we can do the same thing this year as last year.”
For more information on the food drive or to make a donation contact Rita Holmes at 918-315-2218.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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