The holiday season may be months away but in Neosho, Arvest Bank made a donation this week to the Newton County Food Basket Brigade, an annual effort that provides food for Christmas dinner plus two weeks to county residents who are in need.

Arvest donated $3,410 and a variety of non-perishable food items for the project on Wednesday, The funds were raised from the annual Million Meals event, a two month fundraiser that ended on June 1.

"It all stays local," Bruce Mahr, Vice-President and Community Banker with Arvest said. "What we raise stays local."

With the help of the community, Million Meals provides well over a million meals through more than 70 organizations Arvest partnered with this year.

Funds for more than two million, six hundred thousand meals were raised bank wide by Arvest, according to Mahr. In Neosho, money for 17, 050 meals were raised - the amount donated to the Newton County Food Basket Brigade. In Joplin, donations equaled 102,327 meals. During the 9 years that Arvest has been involved with Million Meals, more than 16 million meals have been paid for through the program.

In addition to the Million Meals campaign, Arvest also held a food drive locally. Collection boxes were placed at each of the branch locations. The amount collected was estimated to around double what has been gathered in the past. Arvest customers and community members provided the food items.

Registration for the Newton County Food Basket Brigade will begin this fall, usually in November, and those who want to sign up need a social security card for each member of the household and proof they live in Newton County. No financial information is ever requested.

The food is annually distributed on the third Saturday in December. This year, that will be Saturday, December 21.

Representatives from the Newton County Food Basket Brigade, Arvest, and the community were on hand for the donation presentation.

Arvest Bank is a bank headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, with branches in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Multiple Arvest locations are found in southwest Missouri.

The presentation took place at Arvest Bank, 739 West Harmony in Neosho.