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No sponsor for Christmas Basket collection drive

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By Chris Sardelli

There will be one less Christmas charity drive this year.

The Ward Faulkenberry Memorial Christmas Basket fund, an annual drive that had provided assistance to local families during the holidays, is not expected to run this year.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross, which sponsored the fund during the past five years, has no plans to continue the charity drive.

Gina Amato, director of the Lancaster affiliate of the Red Cross, said her organization no longer has any bank accounts in the Lancaster area. As such, they no longer have the means to collect money for the fund.

The local Red Cross used to collect the money and then distribute it to Christian Services, the Lancaster County Department of Social Services and the Lancaster County Council on Aging. The money was then used to buy food vouchers or gift cards that were given to families to use at local grocery stores.

The fund was named after the late Ward Faulkenberry, a former athletics officer and commander of American Legion Post No. 31, who founded the fund 49 years ago.

Last year, the fund raised more than $7,000 within a month and a half.

Brenda Campbell, the Angel Tree coordinator for Christian Services, was disappointed to hear that the Red Cross would not be sponsoring the Christmas Basket fund this year. She said several people have called her organization hoping to donate money to keep the fund alive, but Christian Services does not have the resources to coordinate the fund.

“The Red Cross used to give some money to several agencies, but without someone to do that, we don’t have anyone to do it,” Campbell said. “It’s too much for us to take on.”

Christian Services has been busy finding sponsors for the 1,500-plus children on its Angel Tree, and Campbell said her director is wary of taking on another project.

She said there are not many other groups in Lancaster County that could take responsibility for the fund, especially since many government-run agencies do not usually participate in funds such as the Christmas Basket.

Campbell hopes a local church may step forward and take it over.

“I really wish we could do it,” she said. “Because we could really use the cards. People really count on them. $25 is not a whole lot, but it makes a difference to have items like milk and bread.”

For those interested in sponsoring a child on Christian Services’ Angel Tree, contact the group at 286-5112 or 285-4444. The organization will accept sponsors through Dec. 24.

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at 416-8416