Braving the cooler temperatures early Saturday, volunteers canvassed Neosho and the fringes of the city to collect non-perishable food during the annual Newton County Food Basket Brigade county-wide door-to-door solicitation.
One of the groups that helped out was the Neosho High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC cadets.
“We are picking up cans and taking it to the facility (former Auto Tech, 629 N. College St., Neosho), where they are going to put them in baskets and a week later, we are going to deliver them to other houses,” said TJ Geary, staff sergeant with the ROTC.
About a dozen cadets either spread out in teams and picked up the non-perishable food that people laid out on their front porch or volunteers knocked on the doors asking for the food. The cadets’ area was near Kwik Mart, Freeman Road, and a portion of South Street, to name a few streets.
Geary said the ROTC was doing this for two reasons.
“For one, we want to stay on top of the leader boards for community service hours because we have been on the top for as long as I have been in ROTC,” he said. “And it is just a great opportunity for us to get to know the community and help the community out.”
A team of three cadets — Shantell May-Elizabeth Testerman, Katelynn James and Jacob Phillips — drove and walked the portion of east South Street.
“You get to dedicate your time for other people that don’t have food and stuff,” said Testerman, a first time volunteer with the door-to-door food pick up. “And then they get this, because we go around, gather up and then distribute it them… it makes you feel good.”
This was also James’ first time participating.
“People told me to come. It is kind of fun actually,” James said.
While James and Testerman walked, Phillips drove the vehicle up a ways, waiting for the two young ladies to bring collected food.
Phillips said he enjoys doing this non-perishable food drive.
“It makes me really happy, doing my part with the people that need help,” he said. “It brings me joy to know that we are all helping.”
Back at the former Auto Tech building, Pam Miller was busy sorting out food. This too was her first time helping at the annual event.
“I think that it is great and I love being involved in it,” she said. “Once you get involved in it, you can see how much it helps and how many people are involved, I think that it is great.”
Page 2 of 2 - The overall goal of the food basket brigade is to raise 120,000 pounds of food to feed up to 1,200 families. The distribution will take place on Saturday (watch for a story this week).
At the end of the day, Terry Cook, president of the food basket brigade talked about the totals.
“Today collection was a little light… a lot of things were going on today around the area and people were not home,” Cook said. “We didn’t get near the food collected like we had in the past.”
But there is still time to help out. The last day for donations is Wednesday. Food and or monetary donations can be left at the old Newton County Armory on the corner of Jefferson and Brook streets.
The Newton County Food Basket Brigade provides enough food for a traditional Christmas dinner plus basic staples to last up to two weeks for Newton County residents certified as low income, disadvantaged, disabled, and/or elderly in need of assistance. Virtually all individuals and families certified to receive food through the Basket Brigade are also receiving assistance from D.F.S., Economic Security Corporation, Neosho Crosslines, the Help Center and other relief agencies. This assistance is minimal, at best, and provides nothing extra for the holidays. The basic premise of the Basket Brigade is that in this land of plenty, nobody should have to go hungry at Christmas.
“Thanks for everything that they did today,” Cook added.