Alton High School Student Council members help load items for agencies picking up their allotment during last year’s Community Christmas drive.
EAST ALTON — United Way’s annual Community Christmas donation drive is looking for partners to host a donation box to collect items for those in need during the holidays. The program kicks off Tuesday, Nov. 3, with boxes being delivered to dozens of participating businesses, schools, churches and other organizations throughout the Riverbend.
All it takes to be a donation drop-off location is to have one or more boxes located in a place of business that are accessible for clients, visitors or employees to drop off items during normal business hours. The boxes are provided courtesy of Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery and are of no cost to businesses hosting a box. Those interested in receiving a box can contact United Way at (618) 258-9800.
“My introduction to the program last year was a really inspiring experience,” said Megan Allen, Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery community affairs coordinator and 2015 Community Christmas chair. “Seeing the generosity of the community and local businesses in their overflowing boxes filled with donations made me proud to be a part of this incredible holiday drive. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as the new 2015 Community Christmas chair and am looking forward to diving in to make it a success once again for the community.”
Community Christmas runs from Nov. 3, when boxes will be delivered to participating organizations, and will wrap up on Thursday, Dec. 10, when boxes will be collected and taken to a central location for sorting. Donations to be placed in the boxes include non-perishable food items, new clothes for all ages, new winter weather necessities like gloves, hats and scarves, blankets, towels, baby care items, hygiene items, cleaning supplies and new toys. Cash donations will be accepted and should be sent to United Way at 707 Berkshire Blvd., Suite 270, East Alton, IL 62024 and marked as Attn: Community Christmas.
Last year, Community Christmas collected 17,116 items and distributed them to 15 agencies. Donations this year will support 17 agencies to help those in need.
Dawna Gilbreath, Community Christmas coordinator, said that these 17 organizations greatly rely on the donations from the program to help residents have a great holiday.
“Last year, Community Christmas was once again able to help more than 6,000 people throughout the Riverbend thanks to the generosity and support of the community,” she said. “The letters of thanks we saw from families and kids who received some of the items were so moving and heartwarming … it makes all of the hard work that goes into this program feel all the more rewarding.”
Besides needing businesses and organizations to host donation boxes, volunteers for a variety of activities are also essential to the success of Community Christmas. Opportunities include prepping the boxes with festive signs and labels on Nov. 2, delivering boxes to host sites on Nov. 3, picking up donation-filled boxes once Community Christmas comes to a close on Dec. 10, and sorting and loading the thousands of items donated for pick-up by the agencies on Dec. 10 and 11.
For those interested in hosting a box, volunteering or for more information, call the Southwest Illinois Division of United Way of Greater St. Louis at (618) 258-9800.