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At the First Resource Center's first fresh food distribution in 2014, East Texas Food Bank served 584 Anderson County families by providing a truckload of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Braving cold, wet December weather – and a few pleasant days in between – volunteers for the Salvation Army's First Resource Center raised nearly $30,000, doubling last year's amount of $14,000.

More kettles, more volunteers, and more community outreach boosted donations in 2019. The money will go toward the center's mission of providing food and aid to local families.

This year, kettle drives took place at Walmart, Brookshire's, and Lowe's; last year, Walmart was the only location manned by volunteers.

The drive began Nov. 29 and continued until Tuesday.

“Having the four stations made a big difference, and helped us exceed our goal,” said Kurt Sohn, First Resource chairman. Sohn said he and other board members also exceeded their original goal of raising $25,000 by spreading the word early and recruiting more volunteers.

Sohn and other board members sent letters to local pastors in October. Sohn also spoke about the center's needs at KYYK radio in Palestine two weeks before the drive. As a result, dozens of people – especially members of area churches – answered the call for help, signing up to ring the bell in shifts, and usually on more than one day.

“Volunteers also recruited their friends to help ring the bell,” Sohn said. “And David Barnard's insurance agency paid their staff to ring the bell.”

The center's services include monthly distribution of food, Tuesday through Friday each week; providing three days of meals for all members of participating families; fresh produce from the East Texas Food Bank on the first Friday of each month; monthly distribution of the federal government “Senior Box” program; and information or signups for United Healthcare insurance.

The center pays its highest bill – $3,000 per month – to the East Texas Food Bank to feed families in Anderson County. The center has no paid staff, and serves 1,000 people, whose families include up to 3,000 people, in Anderson County.

Carol Metteauer, Harold Pettit, Barbara Pettit, Marilyn Bailey, and Bobby Brunson also serve on the board. Blinda Craig is the center's executive director, appointed earlier this year.

Tax deductible donations can be sent to First Resource Center, PO Box 4366, Palestine, TX 75802.

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