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Sharing the Joy of Christmas

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As the Christmas festivities make their way to Bolivar, many organizations and groups are bringing opportunities to spread love and cheer to those in the community who need it most.

There are many ways to give back to fellow members of your community, and here are a few of the many local causes that you can support this time of year.

Red Kettles & Christmas Bells

With the holiday season approaching, trips to local grocery stores are met with a welcoming smile as bell ringing volunteers greet customers and fill the air with the sound of Christmas.

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign began on Friday, Nov. 25. Community members have until Saturday, Dec. 24 to sign up to ring the bells in an effort to support area residents.

Keeping it close to home, the Salvation Army partners with Community Outreach Ministries (COM) in Bolivar, contributing funds – which are mostly raised through the Red Kettle Campaign – to provide resources and assistance to area residents.

“Of cash placed in the kettles, 85% stays local in Polk County,” says Micah Titterington, executive director of COM. “Funds are used through Community Outreach Ministries' case management program, which partners with The Salvation Army, to assist with emergency financial needs, such as fuel, rent, and utility bills.”

As a motivator to area shoppers, COM set this year’s goal at $22,000, a decrease from the 2021 goal of $28,000.

“We fell short of last year's goal, which was a common trend across Salvation Army locations around the country for 2021,” Titterington says. “Likely reasons were decreased in-person shopping and a harder time recruiting volunteers with the pandemic still in full swing.”

Although the numbers may have been down last year, Titterington is optimistic about the prospects of the 2022 bell ringing season. He explains that only 165 time slots were filled by volunteers last year. By contrast, at least 161 time slots were filled a week prior to the start of this year’s campaign.

Titterington says that there are still plenty of available slots, and volunteers are needed to ring the bells.

Individuals or groups in Polk County can sign up online at bolivarcom.org/bellringing to ring the bells at Walmart and/or Woods Supermarket.

Donations to the Red Kettle Campaign can also be made online bolivarcom.org/bellringing.

Shoppers can also access the donation site by scanning the QR code that can be found on most Salvation Army kettles.

BPD hosts Shop with a Cop

The Bolivar Police Department is set to host their yearly Shop with a Cop event on Tuesday through Thursday, Dec. 6-8, at Walmart in Bolivar.

The community is welcome to make monetary donations to support this cause, which allows each participating child the opportunity to purchase $100 worth of Christmas gifts for themselves and others, with the help of local law enforcement officials.

Children will also be served pizza and get to see Santa Claus, and they will receive a take-home gift bag of hygiene items.

A recent press release from the City of Bolivar stated that the police department’s Shop with a Cop program serves students at several Polk County school districts, including Bolivar, Humansville, Pleasant Hope, Fair Play, Morrisville, and Halfway.

“The Shop with a Cop program allows teachers and counselors from surrounding schools to select children in kindergarten through third grade who could benefit from being a part of the program,” the release stated.

Donations to support the program can be made by calling Bolivar City Hall at 417-326-2489. Donors can visit the City of Bolivar Public Safety Center at 211 W Walnut Street to drop off their contributions, or email cash or checks to BPD ATTN: Shop with a Cop, 211 W. Walnut St., Bolivar, MO 65613.

Questions about the Shop with a Cop program can be directed to BPD program coordinator Margaret Baker at 417-326-5298.

Toys for Tots gifts needed by Dec. 10

New, unwrapped toys can be donated to the local Toys for Tots campaign until Saturday, Dec. 10.

Donations can be dropped off at the following locations: Polk County Courthouse, Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce Bolivar Walmart, Bolivar Herald-Free Press, Polk County Library, Southwest Electric Cooperative, Keeling Financial Services, Crown Tractor & Equipment, Peddler’s Post, KYOO, Quarles Supply, Never Say NO Auto, Bolivar Fitness Center, Hubbert Realty, and Lash Love Studio.

For more information, contact Fred Bass at 417-399-2331.

Prepping for Share Your Christmas

Polk County Christian Social Ministries is once again preparing for their annual Share Your Christmas (SYC) program.

SYC distribution is scheduled to take place on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 14-15, and volunteers can help organize and prepare items during distribution week.

Area residents can also participate in SYC by finding the angel trees at local stores and purchasing item(s) on the angel ornaments to provide the requested gift(s) for SYC recipients.

SYC registration ended on Wednesday, Nov. 30, with 376 families signing up to receive food and gift bags.

According to PCCSM member Leta Gass, 135 people signed up for SYC online, which she says is 50 more online registrants than last year.

A release from PCCM said that each adult will receive a generic gift bag, and every child in the participating family will be given a bag containing at least one of the items on their wish list.

“I usually don’t ask for help, but this year has been a difficult one. I’m sure most people would agree with that,” says a SYC participant. “My fiancé is out of a job until January due to working at SBU; I only work part-time hours. Anything would help. We just want to make our first Christmas as a family special and memorable.”

To volunteer for SYC preparation and distribution, call PCCSM at 417-326-7179 on any Monday or Wednesday during open hours.

Bringing Christmas to the Boys Ranch

One way that people in the community can give a little Christmas this holiday season is by purchasing stocking stuffers for the residents at Good Samaritan Boys Ranch.

Stocking stuffer donations for GSBR include warm socks, winter hats, gloves, chapsticks, candy canes/other candy, and card game/fidget toys.

Unwrapped stocking stuffers can be brought to the BH-FP office at 335 S Springfield Ave., Bolivar. All gift items will be accepted until Friday, Dec. 16. For more information, call the BH-FP at 326-7636.

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