BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce wants to ensure that for dozens of area families struggling to make ends meet, the holidays will be a little bit brighter.
The organization kicked off its annual Feed the Families food drive on Friday, which provides needy families with groceries to put together first-rate holiday meals.
Friday was also the first day significant cuts to the national food stamp program went into effect, further underscoring the struggle some families face to have enough to eat.
As part of the Feed the Families drive, each family receives three boxes of food, a ham, a turkey and pies. Donations of non-perishable food items, cash or checks can be dropped off until Nov. 15 at the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce's offices.
The food drive has been a mainstay of the community for as long as Janet Mackey, president of the chamber's board of directors, can remember.
"These families have fallen through the cracks," Mackey said. "The schools know they're struggling. All we want to do is help make the holidays cheerier for them."
The drive has been going for at least six years, she said.
"Around three years ago, we had such an overwhelming response that we expanded it to include Christmas meals, too," she said.
Every year, schools in the Bloomfield School District identify families in need to receive the food in plenty of time for Thanksgiving, Mackey said. But the food drive is more than a project of the chamber.
"Along with the many businesses and individuals who help, a major sponsor is Williams Energy Services, who matches what its employees donate -- part of the company's 'good neighbor' policy," Mackey said. "What's really nice is our police department delivers the food boxes at Thanksgiving, and our fire department does the same at Christmas."
The drive provides about 25 families with enough food for a family of four for a week, but if a certain school has more families on its list than expected, no one will be turned down, Mackey said.
"It's all anonymous," she said. "The schools reach each family they identified for support."
The collective effort reminds Mackey of the small-town heart Bloomfield exemplifies.
"People here have such goodness in their hearts and really care about families in the community," Mackey said. "It's truly a community project -- the chamber cannot take sole credit for this. It truly is a community-based effort."