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IAM food drive, winter coat collection under way

IAM food pantry manager Ernest Brown, right, accepts a turkey from volunteers George and Linda in 2019. [LIGHTNING FILE PHOTO] IAM food pantry manager Ernest Brown, right, accepts a turkey from volunteers George and Linda in 2019. [LIGHTNING FILE PHOTO]

Interfaith Assistance Ministry kicked off its fourth annual Holiday Food Drive last week to help ensure that local families can enjoy a holiday meal at home during the upcoming holiday season.

To help families and individuals struggling to keep food on the table, IAM is offering a full holiday meal in either November or December to assist families who cannot afford a traditional meal to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas. Food and financial donations for the food drive will be accepted through Friday, Dec. 18.
“With the continuing challenges of COVID times, we know it is more important than ever to help provide a holiday meal for families in financial crisis to safely eat at home,” IAM Executive Director Elizabeth Willson Moss said. “You can help by holding a food drive in your neighborhood, church or community group. Or by donating funds so IAM can purchase food.”
With Bounty for Bethlehem unable to safely provide its annual Christmas meal, IAM’s staff and volunteers are working to help fill the increased needs resulting from cancelled holiday food distributions around the county, Moss said. In 2019, IAM provided holiday meals to 500 families comprised of 1,472 children and adults.
IAM is also launching its winter weather clothing drive Monday. Clothing needs are new socks, shoes, and underwear; new or clean/gently used winter coats; and clothing with no stains, tears, broken zippers or missing buttons.
“We are helping more and more hurting families during the continued pandemic,” Moss said. “We anticipate the need to be huge this year and we want to help eliminate the extra financial stress the holidays bring.”
Holiday foods and donations can be dropped off at IAM’s pantry drive-through door Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Please call Ernest or Wally at 697-7029 to schedule a large pick-up of holiday foods. For other questions, call 697-7029.
Donations needed for holiday meals include 6- to 10-pound hams, 10- to 15-pound turkeys, turkey breasts, stuffing mix, gravy mix or canned gravy, sweet potatoes or yams, canned fruits, canned green beans, canned corn, small to medium bags of potatoes, mushroom soup, fried onions, pie crusts, pie filling, cake mixes and icing.
Holiday meals will be offered to individuals and families seeking assistance from IAM. Thanksgiving meals will be distributed Nov. 9 through Nov. 25. Christmas meals will be distributed Dec. 7 through Dec. 23.
Through September of this year, IAM has provided more services than in all of 2019, assisting more than 14,000 Henderson County residents one or more times. New this year, IAM has initiated Drive-Thru Tuesdays (3-5:30 p.m.) to address food gaps during the pandemic. A typical Drive-Thru Tuesday provides food to 140 families comprised of more than 600 children and adults. Those totals are on top of an average of seven-day orders of food to 120 or more households per week, Moss said.
Interfaith Assistance Ministry has provided crisis services including food, clothing, help with heating, utilities, rent and other basic needs to Henderson County residents since 1984. Donations of new adult and children’s shoes, socks, underwear and gently used winter clothing are now being accepted at the donation door. For more information about IAM, please call 828-697-7029 or visit