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Kudos to HOPE for saving basket fund

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By The Staff

We had lost hope that there would be a Christmas Basket drive this year. But then a Lancaster County organization that has offered people hope for 25 years restored that hope.

That organization is HOPE, which stands for Helping Other People Effectively. The outreach agency has agreed to take on the Christmas Basket drive this year.

That’s remarkable because HOPE already has a full plate. It helps county residents in need with food, utilities and rent. With unemployment high in the county and the economy slumping, the organization has seen a sharp increase in requests for its services.

But Elaine Adkins, the executive director of HOPE, was spurred into action when she learned the local Red Cross wouldn’t be able to handle the Christmas Basket drive this year as it has for the last five years.

Adkins didn’t want the drive to fold. And it’s understandable why. It’s a Lancaster County tradition.

This drive was founded 49 years ago by Ward Faulkenberry, a former athletics officer and commander of American Legion Post No. 31.

Since his death, the drive has formally been called the Ward Faulkenberry Memorial Christmas Basket fund.

But the reason the drive is important isn’t so much to memorialize Faulkenberry as it to continue the good work he started five decades ago.

The drive provides food vouchers for families in need over the holidays. Countless people have been aided by the drive over the decades. And many people, including church and other groups, have taken up special collections for the drive during the holidays.

It looked that all might come to an end because the local Red Cross, which merged with the Chester and York county chapters earlier this year, wasn’t going to be able to sponsor the drive. It doesn’t have bank accounts in the county anymore,  so it no longer had the means to collect money for the fund.

But when Adkins learned the Red Cross could no longer sponsor the drive, she brought the issue to the attention of HOPE’s board of directors and they unanimously decided to take the project on.

HOPE is already taking donations and plans to set up a separate checking account for the fund.

Several churches have also expressed interest in helping with the drive.

Last year, the fund raised more than $7,000 in six weeks.

There isn’t that much time to raise money this year, with Christmas less than three weeks away.

But one thing we hope is that people will believe in the drive as much as Elaine Adkins and the HOPE board do.

So, if you have the means to make charitable donations this Christmas, please consider making one to HOPE. It’s a worthy cause.

To donate to the fund, make checks out to Christmas Basket Fund, and send to Christmas Basket Fund, P.O. Box 166 Lancaster, SC 29721. You may also drop off contributions at the The Lancaster News, 701 N. White St., and they will be forwarded to HOPE.