By JEFFREY SMITH
Leader staff writer
Cabot Christmas Alliance and Cabot Christmas for Kids teamed up on Saturday, turning the old Alford’s furniture store on West Main Street into a factory of giving.
The two charities assisted over 650 families living in the Cabot School District for Christmas. Cars snaked around the Alford’s parking lot in orderly lines as volunteers loaded boxes of food and toys into the vehicles of people on a list who were in need.
Pick-up locations were also at Austin City Hall and at the Ward First Baptist Church.
“I knew this existed but I was not aware of the scope and the magnitude of the program itself. I’m super impressed with the community effort. I’ll support it all I can. I think this is great. It’s well organized and running well,” Mayor-elect Bill Cypert said.
Ed Caldwell, chairman of the Cabot Christmas Alliance committee has been with the organization for the past 35 years.
Cabot Christmas Alliance had over 200 volunteers last week sorting foods and canned goods donated by the community, Knight’s Super Foods and Kroger. Many of the volunteers returned for Saturday’s distribution.
“I’m extremely proud to see the younger kids come out and help. I see teenagers have grown up and are still helping,” Caldwell said.
Ed Caldwell said the Christmas Alliance is 100 percent volunteers, with help from area churches, schools, businesses and restaurants.
“It is truly a community effort. Everybody just pitches in,” Caldwell said.
Shelley Montoya, vice president of Cabot Christmas for Kids, was with her daughter Oriana, 11, helping the organization and teaching a lesson in life.
“No matter how little we have, there are others with even less. You always pay it forward,” Shelley Montoya said.
Cassie Whitt and her family of Cabot received assistance from the two organizations.
“This helped me a whole lot. I’m a single mother with two kids, an autistic son and a newborn,” she said.
“They are very nice people; they are a blessing,” Whitt said.
After picking up food and toys, those needing clothing or coats were directed to the Cabot Public School’s custodial warehouse at 310 G.P. Murrell Drive.
By noon the warehouse was bare with racks of coat hangers and empty tables that were full earlier in the morning.
Melody Battles, a volunteer, said there were over 170 people who signed in for Coats for Christmas. The program collected coats for two months. Clothing was donated or came from the lost and found boxes at the schools. Volunteers spent several weeks washing hundreds of coats.
“It went fast. A lot of people were satisfied with the items they were needing. We appreciate Bill Holden (Cabot Christmas for Kids chairman) for helping and letting us use the custodial warehouse,” volunteer Bonnie Bennett said.