Dubbed "Neighbors Helping Neighbors," the partnership between the Bootheel Food Bank and the 33rd Judicial Circuit's juvenile office aims to help 75 families.
"We're trying to reach out to the community to distribute food and toys to families that are in need," said David McDermott, a deputy juvenile officer for the 33rd Judicial Circuit.
A large portion of the work will be done by community service workers, mostly juvenile. "They learn to give back to the community," said McDermott. "And by working here, they see the need. They remember stuff like that."
Community service workers from the 33rd Judicial Circuit already volunteer there, said McDermott; and "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" is branching out, which will log more hours.
Roger Woolsey, volunteer/CSFP coordinator with the food bank, and McDermott came up with the idea about three weeks ago, they said.
"We were out here talking one day and said 'hey, do you think we can do a food drive?'" Woolsey recalled.
And the plan moved forth from there.
The Bootheel Food Bank is redistributing some food and items donated to fill the food baskets, said Woolsey. That includes food from Good Humor-
Breyers, the annual Boy Scout Food Drive, and blankets from the Salvation Army.
"In addition to that, we're soliciting toy donations," said McDermott.
Other than meat donations, the two said they should have enough food, from the Boy Scout drive as well as donations received from area school districts.
"I think we're going to be fine on the food," McDermott said.
McDermott said this drive will help people who may be confused when it comes to donating for those in need. "They don't know where to give to, and they don't know who to call," he said.
He admitted that people often are afraid their donations will be misused. But McDermott said he has the resources to curb that. "I think we can almost eliminate all that," he said. "Families that really need it will get it."
Those involved are working with schools, the Children's Division and area law enforcement to check that families really do need help.
The two also noted that there will not be any application process; families chosen to receive baskets will be chosen through referrals received. "It's not a sign-up deal, it's a reference deal," said Woolsey.
To avoid duplication, they've asked that agencies don't submit a family to any other agency, too. Lists will also be checked against those of other groups with holiday food programs.
Since this is the first year for "Neighbors Helping Neighbors," Woolsey and McDermott said they are still in the learning process, but they said things are going smooth. Next year, they want to be able to deliver about 100 baskets.
And within a few years, the two say they want to collaborate "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" with all the other groups with similar drives and have a single campaign.
And although all of the items will be donated, there is still a lot of work to be done. Right now, volunteers are sorting the food into different categories. Volunteers will also be needed to help assemble and deliver the baskets on Dec. 21.
Anyone who would like to help with the "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" campaign -- through donations or volunteer work -- can contact McDermott at his office, 472-2554, ext. 4.