Report on the 2020 Good Neighbors project

Dear Friends, Volunteers, and Supporters:

For this year’s Christmas food and gifts project, Good Neighbors had to adapt to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, as everyone else. We used a drive-through registration for food and gifts at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church instead of gathering in the Fellowship Church.

And we mailed out a form beforehand with which to collect the detailed children’s gifts information; much of the registration was accomplished by mail and phone.

Food and gift distribution was also by drive-through with food at the Fellowship Church and gifts at St. Joseph’s. None of the recipients seemed to mind these arrangements.

All the other tasks such as the food drive, and filling food baskets went on about the same as in years past except everyone wore masks, kept the doors open, and spread out as much as possible.

The Angel Tree requests went out as usual but were complicated because many churches had suspended in-person services; so, for this reason, cash donations were encouraged.

In spite of COVID-19, the 2020 project again provided assistance to area families for the Christmas and holiday season.

In total, 122 families, comprising 320 persons, were served: 106 households received Christmas food baskets, which were really a huge tub of about 38 purchased food items, and a large box filled with nine different canned goods from the school food drives. Instead of a basket, 16 households opted to receive a $30 cash voucher to Archer’s Food Center. Of the 106 families receiving food, 43 families with 102 children also received gifts — toys and clothes — through Angel Tree.

Even with the uncertainty of in-school versus remote learning, Andersonville Elementary School, Fairview Elementary School, Norris Elementary School, and Norris Middle School still held their customary after-Thanksgiving food drives, which yielded about 150 milk crates full of non-perishable food, an estimated 4,800 items. This was on par with previous years—well done, schools.

Good Neighbors volunteers sorted the donations; over half was used for the food baskets, and the other half was shared with the Norris Area Food Pantry and the Community Action Commission. Both organization work cooperatively with Good Neighbors to provide food to those families who need it.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Christmas project. For the food baskets, more than 50 people helped in some way, expending a total of 233 hours doing things like registering families, loading and unloading trucks, sorting donated food, packing produce, filling tubs and boxes, and distributing baskets.

A big THANK YOU to the people who stepped up to get the job done in near-record time. As they have for many years, a crew of students and staff from Anderson County High School did most of the heavy work delivering baskets to the Norris Garden Apartments, and hauling baskets to the parking lot for loading into cars.

For the Angel Trees: 102 generous individuals donated time, money and effort to purchase gifts.

And approximately 18 people worked about 118 hours, performing things like planning, coordination, registration, database maintenance, Angel adoption and fulfillment, gift organization, preparation of Angels and gift bags, distribution, and clean up.

There is a lot of work involved in both the food basket and Angel Tree efforts.

Thank you for your help, interest, and support.

Best wishes for a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2021 from your friends at Good Neighbors.

Good Neighbors has been helping area families since the mid-1930s. It is an association of Norris area churches and others as part of their outreach work. Funding is entirely from contributions from churches, groups and individuals.

Donations may be sent to Good Neighbors, c/o Norris Religious Fellowship, P.O. Box 267, Norris, TN 37828.