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Loads of help at Christmas: Optimists ease burden on families

NORTH LIBERTY — For many families, Christmas break is not only two weeks of relative freedom from the rigors of the school day, but also two weeks of planning additional meals to feed the kids.
It can be difficult to stretch a household food budget that far.
The North Liberty Optimists Club, for the last five years, has stepped in to help.
On Dec. 14, the Optimists delivered a small mountain of kid-friendly food items to the Family Resource Center at Penn Elementary to be distributed to local families. According to the Optimists, the foods were specifically chosen so that kids could prepare some meals themselves.
Among the food items were: macaroni and cheese; fruit and cereal bars; crackers; cereal; bread, peanut butter and jelly; chips and salsa; ramen noodles; pudding cups; pancake mix and syrup; apple sauce; apples and oranges; and assorted canned foods. The food was paid for by the Optimist Club and through donations made by Optimist members.
Eighty families will be helped by the extra food this year, a few more than last year, but within the club’s annual average. Family Resources Center Director Jill Winders explained the only criteria for assistance is “any family that can use extra food during the holidays.” She expressed her gratitude for partnering with the Optimists.
Fred Charbon, NL Optimists president, explained the organization’s involvement.
“It’s for the support of the youth of the community,” he said.
“I wish people could see the smiles and excitement when people come to pick it up,” Winders added.