LUMBERTON — More than 500 of Robeson County’s senior citizens will receive an early Christmas dinner thanks to the Robeson County Church and Community Center, the Department of Social Services, elected officials and county businesses.
Because of the bad economy, a lot of families who get together over the holidays are in need of food, according to Darlene Jacobs, executive director of the Robeson County Church and Community Center. She said last year during Christmas the center distributed almost 140,000 pounds of food to those in need.
“Here at Robeson County Church and Community Center we are seeing a tremendous increase in the number of families and elderly in need of food and services,” Jacobs said. “… For 2013, our total projection to serve families and children, the elderly, individuals and homeless will increase by about 30 percent.”
On Saturday, the center is joining with state and locally elected officials, as well as the DSS, to prepare 500 food boxes with a complete Christmas dinner — including a chicken or ham — for people 65 and older in Robeson County. The boxes will be distributed from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lumberton Junior High School.
Seniors wishing to receive a food box must register by calling DSS at 910-608-2277 or 910-608-2157, or the Robeson County Church and Community Center at 910-738-5204.
A health fair is also planned for the event. Health information of interest to the elderly, as well as blood pressure and diabetes screenings, will be available.
This is the fourth year that the elected officials and businesses have joined the center and DSS in the “Holiday Caring” effort.
“This is all worthwhile for those who are struggling at this time of year with the cost of things,” Jacobs said. “It gives our seniors the opportunity to have a nice meal for Christmas.”
State Rep. Garland Pierce, one of the event’s organizers, is asking people and businesses wanting to assist this year’s program to provide a donation of food or money.
“This is a great opportunity to come out and join us as we celebrate the holidays with our seniors,” he said.
Organizers of Saturday’s event are asking that those attending bring a new unwrapped toy suitable for a child up to age 13. The toys will be distributed to children who are residents of public housing provided through the Housing Authority in Lumberton.
The toy-giveaway program is being administered by Nanette “Nan” Hayes, who with the help of a few volunteers has run the program for nine years. Hayes said last year she was able to provide toys for 130 children. In past years, as many as 978 children received toys through her program.
“It makes me feel so good when I’m able to deliver the toys to the homes and see the impact they make on a child’s Christmas,” she said.