EAST ALTON — United Way’s annual Community Christmas drive is looking for partners to host donation boxes and collect items for those in need during the upcoming holidays. The program kicks off on Wednesday, November 1, when dozens of participating businesses, schools and churches throughout the Riverbend will receive donation boxes.

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A business can serve as a donation drop-off location by requesting one or more boxes to place within their location, accessible for clients, visitors or employees. The boxes are provided courtesy of Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery and are of no cost. Those interested in receiving a box can visit www.helpingpeople.org/box to submit a request.

Martha Morse, business development representative of 1st MidAmerica Credit Union and United Way’s 2017 Community Christmas Committee chair, said, “For decades, the Riverbend community has been coming together to help children and families each holiday season. This year is no different, as the need in our area is great. We’re again asking the community to help us collect basic items like diapers, non-perishable food and new coats, toys and blankets.”

Donations will be accepted through Tuesday, December 5, and include non-perishable food items, new clothes for all ages, including gloves, hats and scarves, blankets, towels, baby care items, hygiene items, cleaning supplies and new toys. Monetary donations are also accepted and can be made online at www.helpingpeople.org/christmas2017 or mailed to United Way at 707 Berkshire Blvd., Suite 270, East Alton, IL 62024 and marked as Attn: Community Christmas.

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Last year, Community Christmas collected 19,252 items for the community. Donations received this year will go to support the following local agencies to help those in need:

  • Boys and Girls Club of Alton
  • Caritas Family Solutions
  • Catholic Charities of Madison County
  • Catholic Children’s Home
  • Centerstone
  • Children’s Home and Aid
  • Crisis Food Center, Inc.
  • Illinois Center for Autism
  • Lutheran Child & Family Services
  • Oasis Women’s Center
  • Operation Blessing
  • Riverbend Family Ministries
  • Riverbend Head Start & Family Services
  • The Salvation Army – Alton
  • Village of Royal Lakes (Concerned Citizens)

Dawna Gilbreath, Community Christmas coordinator, noted, “Last year, more than 8,000 families and individuals received help through the Community Christmas program. With the help of these organizations and the community, we can again ensure many in the area have a great holiday season.”

Besides needing businesses and organizations to host donation boxes, volunteers are needed for a variety of activities are also essential to the success of Community Christmas. Volunteer opportunities include delivering boxes to host sites on November 1 and 2, picking up and sorting through the thousands of donations on December 6, and loading the items for pick-up by the agencies on December 7.

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.

About United Way of Greater St. Louis

United Way of Greater St. Louis mobilizes the community with one goal in mind — helping people live their best possible lives. Located throughout 16 counties in Missouri and Illinois, United Way helps one in three people in the region build a foundation for a good quality of life through basic needs, education, financial stability, health and strong communities. For more information, contact (314) 421-0700 or visit www.HelpingPeople.org.

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