By John A. Ballentine
The Toulon Ministerial Association recently conducted its Christmas Food Basket Program for people who have signed up for this benefit. This program is one of two major activities the Ministerial Association provides for the public during the year.
The vacation Bible school is the second program, which is held during the summer between academic school years. Both programs have been a service to the community, which the Ministerial Association has offered on a local level for many decades.
The food basket program is supported solely by individuals donating either cash or food products.
“People just send us checks, and we put an ad in the papers, so we receive donations. We have no corporate sponsors,” Toulon First Baptist Church minister Reverend Al Harmon stated during an interview.
The Ministerial Association has received food in the past from the now discontinued SHARE organization, apples from Tanner’s Orchard, and various types of canned food from the Princeville canning factory.
Because SHARE has ceased existence and the canning factory only processes pumpkins now, food for the basket program is purchased at Aldi’s grocery store in Kewanee.
“Last year we gave out 62 food baskets and we bought $3,250 worth of food,” Harmon explained. That food is purchased one day prior to distribution at Toulon’s First Congregational Church.
The food baskets were assembled early Saturday morning by a group of 13 volunteers. Each volunteer is responsible for filling a basket with each type of food product.
What typically comprises a food basket is a ham, chicken, various canned foods, fresh vegetables and fruit. Anyone who asks, can receive a food basket, but usually it is individuals or families who are struggling financially.
Toulon, West Jersey and Elmira residents may participate in Toulon’s program. Bradford, LaFayette and Wyoming food programs cover those areas of Stark County.
The News asked if there are specific requirements to be met in order to benefit from the food program.
“No, it is not like some programs through the government. It is for anybody who needs it. We do a lot of the people at Sunshine Village and people throughout Toulon,” Harmon clarified.
This year there were 63 names of families or individuals on the list of recipients who had responded that they would appreciate receiving a food basket.
Answering a question about an increased demand for this program, Harmon said, “No, there is not really an increase because it stays fairly consistent over the years. The names change because we lose 10 to 12 families a year, but there are 10 to 12 new families who replace them.”
Recipients are requested to pick up their food baskets at the First Congregational Church, but some deliveries do occur.
“It’s a good program, it’s a good thing. People really appreciate it,” Harmon concluded.
Anyone willing to donate may contact the Reverends Al Harmon, Ron Toliver or Sid Davis at their respective churches. Donations of cash or checks may be sent to: Toulon Ministerial Association, P.O. Box 636, Toulon, IL 61483. Any amount is surely welcomed and very much appreciated.