LUMBERTON — Robeson County seniors can receive an early Christmas dinner thanks to the efforts of the Robeson County Church and Community Center, the county’s Department of Social Services, elected officials and area businesses.
On Saturday, 500 food boxes will be distributed to seniors 65 and older at the Lumberton Jr. High School. The boxes, which will include a ham or chicken and other ingredients to make a complete dinner, will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis, according to state Rep. Charles Graham, one of the event’s organizers. To receive a box, a senior or their representative must register at the school at 9 a.m. They must then be present to pick up their box when distribution begins at 11 a.m.
This is the fifth consecutive year that the “Holiday Caring for Seniors” food box giveaway has been held. According to Darlene Jacobs, executive director of the Robeson County Church and Community Center, said that only $1,200 was available to fund the first event, while this year more than $5,500 has been donated.
“Even in these tough economic times, this is our strongest year yet for support from our elected officials and businesses,” Jacobs said. “We are very fortunate this year that our community leaders are so sensitive to the need for food by so many people.”
Jacobs said that seniors are targeted the event because there is “a real need there.”
“We are seeing a lot of seniors coming into our center seeking food. A lot of them receive only 12 to 15 dollars worth of food stamps a month,” Jacobs said. “Many are struggling to get enough food with the little amount of food stamps they get and still buy medicine they need.”
According to Jacobs, this year’s donors and sponsors of the event include: Robeson County Board of Commissioners; state Sen. Michael Walters; St. Pauls Chamber of Commerce; Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey; city of Lumberton; state Reps. Charles Graham, Garland Pierce, Kenneth Waddell and Kenneth Goodwin; and Ghee Blain Johnson, a member of the St. Pauls Board of Commissioners.
Other sponsors are: Duke Energy; Bo’s Food Stores; Food Lion; Chick-fil-A; Companion Care; US Cold Storage; Robeson County Fair; Wixie Stephens; Lennis Watts; and Special Moments.
Jacobs said that since September she has seen about a 200 percent increase in the number of people of all ages coming to the center in search of food. Last Christmas season, she said, her center in Lumberton and a satellite center in Red Springs together distributed close to 170,000 pounds of food.
“It’s a way to brighten Christmas for our seniors and show that their elected officials are thinking about them,” Pierce said.
Pierce said that several businesses and health-related organizations will be present to provide health information of importance to seniors. He also said that there will be door prizes.