Applications for the annual Share Your Christmas (SYC) program sponsored by the Seymour Lions Club now are available at the Seymour Community Library.
Organizers aren’t sure if the local need is higher this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is resulted in many southern Webster County residents losing their jobs in the Springfield metropolitan area.
“We just don’t know,” explained Bob Crump, Seymour’s SYC coordinator, when asked if officials expect an increase in applications this year.
“But we do realize that there could be (an increase) due to people losing their jobs due to the virus.”
The holiday-help program for local families in need is eligible to all residents who live within the boundaries of the Seymour R-II School District.
The deadline for program applications arrives on Thursday, Nov. 19.
“(The applications) must be postmarked no later than Nov. 19,” Crump said.
He added that those who pick up and fill out an application must complete it in its entirety.
“It’s a two-page application,” he noted. “It must be completely filled out. It must be signed. Within the application, families are asked to show why they are in need, their family income and expenses, employment, the names of those who reside in the home, as well as provide references.
“Only one (SYC application) per household is allowed. I’ll also add that the kids’ needs is the first thing we look at when screening the applications.”
Crump added that applications “can’t be dropped off with someone or at a location,” explaining that they must be sent via the U.S. Postal Service.
Last year’s program helped roughly 25 families, which totaled more than 100 individuals. Of those, more than half of those helped were children.
“As I said before, our main emphasis is kids ... families who are in need with children in the home,” Crump said.
The process for applying for SYC help is a simple one.
The first step is receiving an application, now available at the Seymour Community Library, located on East Clinton Avenue (Business 60), across from the Seymour Middle School.
The second step is filling out the application.
And the third and final step is mailing the completed application to the Seymour Lions Club.
After that, it goes to the SYC’s screening committee.
Crump said the screening committee is very diverse and very serious about its mission.
“The committee is roughly half Seymour Lions Club members and half members of the community, including representatives of the city and school,” he explained.
“Applicants need to know that the screening committee looks very closely at the needs of the children in the home, accuracy and honesty of the application, circumstances for the need, income versus expenses, plus the items listed on the needs list. Receiving assistance from the (Missouri) Division of Family Services will not automatically qualify anyone applying to receive assistance from SYC. This is a Webster County program that’s not related to any governmental agencies.”
Community needs for SYC
Needs from the community for SYC?
Crump said monetary assistance always is needed.
“Anything helps,” he said, smiling. “Without our many cash donors, this program wouldn’t be possible.”
Money given to the SYC program is used to purchase fresh food for baskets, such as a full turkey, potatoes, bread, vegetables, fruits and milk.
Also provided to all families is a hygiene basket.
Crump said the cost for fresh food ranges from $35 to $40 per basket, while the price tag for the hygiene baskets is from $15 to $20.
“The Seymour Lions Club has been leading SYC here in Seymour for more than 25 years, and the costs of the program have increased over that time, especially over the past five years,” he said. “Food prices steadily have jumped. Frankly, everything has gone up.”
To make a monetary donation to Seymour’s SYC, mail it to the Seymour Lions Club at P.O. Box 235, Seymour, Mo. 65746. Write “Share Your Christmas” on the memo line of your check.
“Over the past couple of decades, we’ve seen some really special success stories,” Crump noted. “There are some who have received help (from SYC) in the past who have turned their lives around and now donate to the program.”
Crump provided a basic timeline of this year’s SYC program over the next seven weeks:
• Today (Wednesday) — Applications available at the Seymour Community Library.
• Thursday, Nov. 19 — Deadline for applications to be mailed and postmarked.
• Saturday, Nov. 21 — Applications reviewed.
• Tuesday, Nov. 24 — Kickoff for the food drive at the Seymour Elementary School and scheduled day for sponsor envelopes to be placed on trees at each bank.
• Monday, Nov. 30 — Elementary food drive starts.
• Monday, Dec. 14 — Deadline for sponsors to deliver gifts to library. End of the food drive, followed by the counting of the food.
• Tuesday, Dec. 15 — Assembly of the food and gifts for families in need.
• Wednesday, Dec. 16 — Purchase and placement of the fresh food and distribution to local families.
Big change in food drive
Later this month, the program’s SYC sponsor envelopes will be placed on Christmas trees at The Seymour Bank and at HomePride Bank in Seymour. A few days before Christmas, the food baskets will be distributed to families, as well as gifts from sponsors, as shown in the timeline above.
“We’re looking at a big change in the food drive this year,” Crump said. “In the past, the Lions Club went to the school for the food-drive kickoff, but due to COVID-19, we won’t be doing that. But the information will go out to the elementary kids when they leave (school) for the Thanksgiving break on Nov. 24.
“The Lions will still sponsor a pizza party for the winning class in the food drive, as well as giving $50 to the teacher of that winning class.”
Food will be picked up on Monday, Dec. 14.
When that occurs, Crump noted that students will deliver the non-perishable food items to a box trailer. No members of the Seymour Lions Club will enter the school.
The food will be taken from the school to the Seymour United Methodist Church.
Distribution of the food will occur at the church.
Families will receive food baskets and gifts at the local library.
“What many people don’t realize is that we need help for this project from so many organizations,” Crump explained.
“The library plays a huge role. So does the school with its food drive, as does the church as our site to organize the food and build the food baskets.
“This is the largest service project that the Seymour Lions Club does in the community every year. I also feel that Share Your Christmas has a huge impact in our community.”
Sticking with the SYC timeline, Crump said the priority is for applicants to pick up an application.
“That’s the key ... to get the application, fill it out, then get it turned in by the Nov. 19 deadline,” he said.
“That’s easy for families to do. Just visit our library here in Seymour and pick one up.”
Crump is confident this year’s SYC again will be a huge success.
“Seymour always comes through, regardless of the need,” he concluded. “There are so many individuals who help, so many organizations that help, so many churches that help. There are lots of silent supporters.
“It takes all of them to make this work."