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Neighbors Helping Neighbors: Feeding Needy Florissant Families for the Holidays

"Florissant Patch" rounds up several local food drives and other ways you can help feed your less fortunate neighbors this holiday season.

As some Florissant families joyfully prepare for the holidays by shopping, getting their homes ready for guests and wrapping gifts, others aren’t so lucky.

According to a report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 128,881 unemployed people in the St. Louis area in October 2011. Though the unemployment rate is down by one percentage point from the 2010 report, it remains a serious issue that affects thousands of area families, including many in Florissant.

In fact, Big Government reports that a primary reason for the drop is that many people simply gave up looking for work, so they were no longer counted as unemployed.

While some people are stocking up on gifts and goodies for the holidays, many of the unemployed and underemployed find themselves struggling through the season just to put food on the table—not to mention buying winter coats and other necessities.

“The unemployment situation and escalating living costs are making it more difficult for families to make ends meet throughout the year,” County Executive Charlie Dooley said in a statement. “The number of families requesting assistance is larger than ever this year.”

KSDK’s Art Holliday recently reported that food banks in the St. Louis area are struggling to keep up with the demand this holiday season, and those in Florissant are no exception.

That’s why, at this time of the year, many organizations hold food drives in an attempt to assist local food pantries in their goal of making sure that area families have enough to eat.

Want to donate food to help a local family in need? Here are some ways you can help close to home.

Help the City Help Your Neighbors

The and Mayor Thomas P. Schneider have joined with TEAM for a city-wide food drive. The city is collecting food items until Dec. 21 at four drop-off sites, including the Florissant Police Department, the James J. Eagan Center, the JFK Center and the Florissant City Hall.

"I ask that you help support this food drive and try and donate as much as you can to help those that need our help during this Holiday Season,” said Schneider in a press release. “I am making this plea to all citizens of Florissant who are gainfully employed or have the means to purchase food for those who cannot."

In addition to food donations, the city is collecting money to help maintain the food pantries and to purchase food in bulk. Florissant residents who want to donate but are unable to make it to one of the drop-off sites may call the Mayor’s office at 314-839-7601 to arrange to have a volunteer pick up the donations and deliver them to TEAM.

Help Area Schools Give Back

Students and staff from several area schools are getting involved in holiday service projects, including food drives, aimed at helping those who are less fortunate in the community.

  • Arrowpoint Elementary School is holding a canned food drive. The school also raised money last month by buying feathers to dress “bare” turkeys. The money raised will purchase giftcards for eight Arrowpoint families. Staff members at Arrowpoint will also donate outfits and toys for the members of the families. All of the donations will be collected and delivered to the needy families.
  • Barrington Elementary School is holding a food drive in cooperation with The Emergency Assistance Ministry (TEAM), as well as collecting gifts for Toys for Tots.
  • and will join at the on Saturday for its Noel Project 2011. The church hopes to help 200 Florissant-area families get through the season by providing food baskets, bikes and toys. Financial donations and new, unwrapped gifts have been requested.
  • Russell Elementary’s student council is sponsoring a fundraiser it’s calling “Russell Gives a Helping Hand to Our Community.” Students are asked to donate gift cards or cash that will be used to buy food and toys for needy families of Russell students.
  • ’s Student Advisory Team and the 9th grade class are collecting canned food items in cooperation with TEAM until Dec. 16.

Adopt a Family

The St. Louis County Adopt a Family Project has been running for 18 years, and during that time, more than 2,800 needy families have been helped, the County reports. Families have received food, clothing, toys, household items and help with the bills.

Every year, county employees invite local businesses, churches and individuals to join them in helping area families in need.

To learn more about adopting a local family, visit the Adopt a Family Project page at the St. Louis County website.

Do you know about a food drive we missed? Tell us in the comments, or email Patch reporter and social media miner Angela Atkinson at angela.atkinson@patch.com so we can share it with the community.

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