By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY —The holiday season is coming and the Derry Community Fund is once again ready to help.
The Community Fund has been a longstanding tradition in the Greater Derry area, serving families and individuals every year with food, clothing and toys.
Applications are now available through the Human Services Department at the Derry Municipal Center.
The volunteer group relies on help from local businesses and organizations as it readies to help people this year.
Community Fund organizers expect the number of those in need to increase over last year’s 300 families helped.
This year, food baskets will be distributed at Thanksgiving and toys will be distributed at Christmas.
Last year, the Fund helped more than 200 families at Thanksgiving and another 140 families at Christmas. Another 115 families were assisted by other community and civic efforts through coordinated efforts with the Community Fund.
The Derry News Santa Fund also supports the Community Fund.
“The mission was made possible by the many generous donations we receive through food drives in schools and local businesses and organizations in the area,” Community Fund organizer Diana Lagasse said.
She said recently fund volunteers noted the low numbers in local food pantry supplies so the Community Fund can pick up and help with food donations during the holidays to help relieve some of that stress.
“We believe this will result in a greater number of families to be served by CDF both at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Lagasse said.
Derry schools, churches and other town groups also collect food and other items to help families in need.
She hopes people will be generous again this year.
The Marion Gerrish Community Center, 39 West Broadway, will be a drop-off location for both nonperishable food and new, unwrapped toys.
Food will be collected beginning early next month. Toys may be dropped off beginning Dec. 1.
Families who apply for Community Fund help will have specific times for food “shopping” at the community center. Thanksgiving food pickup is Nov. 22 from 4 to 7 p.m. or Nov. 23 from 10 a.m. to noon.
Holiday shopping for toys is set for Dec. 13 from 9 a.m. tno noon and 4 to 7 p.m. and again on Dec. 14 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Lagasse said many groups also approach the Community Fund to “adopt” a family for the season, providing dinner essentials and gifts for children.
Community Fund applications are due back by Nov. 8.
For information about the Derry Community Fund or to learn about applications and donations, visit dnhcf.org.