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Community pitches in with holiday giving

An established East End business and downtown church are helping make this holiday season merry for all.

Christmas giving kicks off this week at Lake Superior Chiropractic, 2121 E. Fifth St., as the business collects for the Toys for Tots program this week and food for the Salvation Army next week.

This is the 24th year Lake Superior Chiropractic has held a food drive.

"It's one of those things that is so rewarding to see," said Dr. Carl Miller. "Most people come in with a grocery bag full of food."

Over the years, the donations have added up. Miller estimated the business collects about 800 pounds of food, or seven barrels full, each year. In appreciation for the donation, patients get a discount on services. New patients who bring in a toy donation this week or a food donation next week get a free initial consultation.

It's a good way to support the community, Miller said.

Shoppers can seek out the perfect Christmas gift while feeding the poor during "Home for the Holidays" bazaar and craft sale 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Faith United Methodist Church, 1531 Hughitt Ave. The event features vendors, crafters and a silent auction. Items include jewelry, jams, jellies, landscape photography, crocheted items, stitched goods and treats from Superior Chocolates.

Table rentals and silent auction proceeds are earmarked for the church's food pantry and Meals Outreach Ministry, which provides free community meals the first and fifth Sunday of each month.

The need for food is growing, according food pantry coordinator Don Johnson. In November 2012, the food pantry served 187 households. This November, it served 216.

"We average right at 50 per week," Johnson said. Last Tuesday, it provided 3,500 pounds of food to 56 families. Last year, the food pantry distributed nearly 51 tons of food to those in need.

Children in the area have been lending a hand to feed the hungry. National Honor Society students from Superior High School spent Halloween trick-or-treating for food donations and collected 1,000 pounds for the church food pantry. Students from Northern Lights Elementary School provided another 300 items last week, splitting their food drive collection between the food pantries at Faith United and the Salvation Army. Superior Middle School students are in the midst of a food drive, too.

"So the kids in the area are really helping us out," Johnson said, to meet the growing need.

Both the food pantry and the Meals Outreach Ministry are based at the church but depend on donations to continue.

The meals ministry serves about 3,000 meals a year. Up to 80 people attend each meal. Both the meals and food pantry are open to the public. To utilize the food pantry, however, people must be income eligible and reside in Douglas County.

Meals begin at 4 p.m. the first and fifth Sunday of the month. The church also provides meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

The food pantry is open 4-6:30 p.m. each Tuesday.