Christmas Day will be brighter for about 750 families and individuals who will receive food through the William Hall Rodgers basket fund.Those local residents will receive their boxes of food this …
Christmas Day will be brighter for about 750 families and individuals who will receive food through the William Hall Rodgers basket fund.
Those local residents will receive their boxes of food this Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. As in past years, the food will be distributed at the Tri-State Warehouse on Urbane Road, just south of Tasso.
The baskets will be packed this Friday, starting at 8 a.m. Volunteers will be packing the food, including members of the Bradley Central High School football team, who have been involved for several years.
Anyone else who wishes to help with the packing should be at the warehouse on Friday.
For over 90 years, the Cleveland and Bradley County community has been participating in a longstanding tradition to provide neighbors who find themselves lacking during the holiday season with a basket full of food for a Christmas dinner.
The William Hall Rodgers Christmas Basket Fund, will continue with that tradition this year, with assistance from the United Way of the Ocoee Region.
“Each year, we find ourselves amazed at the generosity of this community. It’s part of the Cleveland spirit,” remarked Matt Ryerson, president and CEO of United Way of the Ocoee Region.
While the program has long been run by volunteers, this year brings in additional resources with the addition of United Way of the Ocoee Region.
“We are partnering very closely with the volunteers who have been running the operation for the last several years to make sure the heritage of the program is preserved,” Ryerson continued.
Funds are still being accepted for the program and can be sent or dropped off at the following locations, Attn: William Hall Rodgers:
First Tennessee Bank (P.O. Box 3566, Cleveland TN 37320-3566 or 3870 Keith St. N.W., Cleveland TN 37312)
Cooke’s Food Store (3400 Keith St. N.W., Cleveland TN 37312)
United Way of the Ocoee Region (85 Ocoee St. S.E, Cleveland TN 37311)
Horace Coffey, who has been involved with the program since the 1970s, said that more funds are needed this year, and can be accepted through the end of the calendar year.
"We are down in the amount of funds donated this year, and this is such a great program, that we hope those who normally give to the William Hall Rodgers basket fund will come through again this year," Coffey said.
The basket fund is named after former Cleveland Daily Banner Editor William Hall Rodgers, who saw the need to help families have a nice meal for Christmas.
Rodgers, who suffered from polio, had a passion for helping needy families. He worked with Associated Charities to help fill families' empty cupboards at Christmas. When he died, the basket fund took his name as a tribute to his efforts.
Each family and individual approved for the food basket will have them available throughout the day. Those traveling Urbane Road, either to pick up baskets or just in normal traffic, can expect delays because of all of the vehicles driving to the distribution site.
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