It was another successful season for Project Christmas.

The program, which works to provide food and gifts for needy families at Christmas, handed out goods to local residents Saturday.

Volunteers received 177 applications this year, down from last year’s number of 248. The organization provided food for 107 families and presents for 432 children.

“We are grateful for the continued support we get for this program,” said Carla Patrick, one of the Project Christmas co-directors. “The citizens of McDowell County step up every year to help those less fortunate and those in need. Project Christmas brings out the best in all of us.”

This was the third year that Project Christmas volunteers partnered with McDowell County Schools and took the application process into the elementary schools. As in years past, applicants were still required to supply proof of their income and bills. The applications were then put through a rigorous screening process that involved teachers, counselors, social workers, references, health nurses and other committee members.

This was the 19th year Patrick and co-director Richelle Bailey spearheaded the event.

The two thanked volunteers for their time, recreation department personnel for their continued support and assistance, students and teachers who collected food and McDowell’s citizens, civic groups, churches and businesses that gave monetary donations and bought gifts for the less fortunate.

“This program could not operate without the generosity and support that these people give,” Bailey stated. “We have the most dedicated volunteers you can find anywhere. They show up year after year and give hours and hours of their time and never ask for anything in return. The rec department staff goes above and beyond to help us with anything they can. The people of this community are the ones that make Project Christmas successful.”

Through contributions from the public, Project Christmas volunteers bought for youngsters not selected from the trees.

Students again collected food for the program.

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