by Geoff Fox
Each year, just before the big day, Christmas for Others sets up shop in the Hancock Community Center to distribute food and toys to those residents in need. The program is sponsored by Hancock churches.
Last Friday, December 14, volunteers gathered to help sort and distribute those items.
Non-perishable food, such as cereals and canned food, was bagged on tables while frozen turkeys or hams were distributed separately. Fresh fruit was also available.
Volunteers from the Hancock community and the Hancock Middle-Senior High School Interact Club were on hand to help those coming in for bags of food and toys carry bags to their vehicle or assist in getting the bags and food into carts.
This year, the effort assisted 62 families in need and 30 singles in need, said Debbie Murphy.
The numbers are down a little, she said, but it is an average number of people being helped.
Coats were also offered in the hallway of Town Hall to anyone who needed them.
Food was donated by Food Lion and Save-A-Lot and Murphy said both grocery stores have been good to the giving program.
“We buy local,” instead of running to Sam’s Club, Murphy added.
Murphy said CFO has been grateful to both the Southern Fulton and Hancock Interact Club students for being the runners, helping with carrying out items, and being helpful with the lifting.
“I feel that it’s a really good opportunity for them to understand the need at Christmas and they are usually very humbled by it,” Murphy said.
There have also been some Christmas miracles surrounding the program.
Murphy said their lunch on distribution day was donated by AC&T. There have been some monetary donations come in as well from another business and individuals.
Josie Foltz, an eighth grader at Hancock Middle School, was volunteering for the second year.
Last year, she didn’t know much about the Christmas for Others program and decided to try volunteering. Foltz said it was fun and good helping the families.
“It means a lot because seeing that this could mean a lot for them for Christmas, and I never got to see it like this,” she said.
Carolyn Clingerman was also volunteering for what she thinks is her third year since retiring from CNB.
She said it’s a way of giving back and she also volunteers at Loaves and Fishes. She’s also the sponsor for the Interact Club at the high school, so she comes down with them as well.
“Makes you feel good at Christmas time,” she said.
Hancock Councilman Tim Boyer was on hand for his first distribution day and had a chance to see how it helps those in need.
“I think it’s a great program for our community, helps out a lot of families,” he said.
He said there was a tremendous amount of food that had come in for the program.
County Commissioner Jeff Cline was also attending his first CFO distribution day. Cline said he was very proud of the Hancock community.
“[I’m] very proud of the Hancock community to see these people giving back love and hope at a time that seasonal demands are many and providing these provisions and toys for others and letting people enjoy Christmas, it shows a strong spirit of community for Hancock, the love of their neighbors,” Cline said.
He also told a story of when he was on the Williamsport town council and there was a similar outreach program.
One year, a mom and dad came in with twin girls needing help with food. The following year, they came in and made a donation after the father was able to return to work.
The family came back with bags of groceries and donated some money to the program.
“Everybody in their heart wants to share and give back,” Cline said.
He added that Hancock is a great community and Christmas for Others is a symbol of why Washington County is great and Hancock is doing a great job.