Photo #1 Fondren

Cooper Frondren, 11-year-old Boy Scout with Troop #27 in Corinth, takes a loaded food box to the vehicle line inside the Crossroads Arena on Saturday morning.

Volunteers gathered early Saturday morning to pass out food boxes and spread some joy at Crossroads Arena.

The annual Christmas Basket project of the Rotary Club and the Daily Corinthian again distributed 1,000 boxes to people who could use a little lift at the holidays. The AMEN Food Pantry is the recipient each year of most or all of any food that is left over after the car line has been exhausted.

Hundreds of cars awaited early Saturday as Boy Scouts and members of local high school groups began loading them up along with Rotarians. For many of the youth, it is an annual occasion.

“There are a lot of people who have grown up doing it,” said Ellis Rhett, the basket fund chairman. “We couldn’t do it without the young people that show up and do a lot of the work.”

Recipients of the boxes get canned goods such as beans, peas and corn; a can of yams; flour; corn meal; oranges and apples; a loaf of bread; canned fruit; and some paper products. The supply chain issues of the pandemic have introduced some challenges.

“Mac and cheese is a staple item, and it’s just not available at a reasonable price right now,” said Randy Long, who has worked with the Christmas Basket for many years.

The primary protein in the box is canned chicken, and one of his regular distributors was able to help source the chicken several months ago. They also had help from Gardner’s in finding some alternative sources.

On Thursday evening, volunteers packed up the boxes in preparation for Saturday’s giveaway. It took less than two hours, he said, thanks to the scouts and student helpers. Long said he enjoys seeing them load boxes into cars and wish people a merry Christmas.

Rhett, who estimated he has worked with the Christmas Basket for around 30 years, is one of a number of longtime veterans of the project.

“It’s a good atmosphere at the right time of year,” he said. “Spreading a little cheer is what it comes down to.”

The basket fund has reached about half of its $22,500 fundraising goal to cover the cost of the effort. Donations in honor or in memory of an individual are encouraged, and all are acknowledged in the newspaper.

Donations may be delivered to the office or mailed to Daily Corinthian, Attn: Christmas Basket Fund, P.O. Box 1800, Corinth, MS 38835.

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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