Caroling on Circle canceled, but food drive will go on

GEORGETOWN — COVID-19 restrictions have upstaged another Sussex County holiday tradition, Caroling on The Circle, which normally partners an evening of Christmas music and celebration with the community kickoff of an extended food-donation drive.

Todd Lawson, Sussex County administrator, announced Tuesday that Caroling on The Circle 2020 — the marquee event in the county’s annual food drive — has officially been suspended. It had been scheduled Dec. 7 in downtown Georgetown.

Todd Lawson

“The decision was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the well-being of the public, as this event usually draws several hundred people, many of them families with school-aged children and senior citizens,” said Mr. Lawson during this week’s County Council meeting.

The county hopes to raise the Caroling on The Circle curtain again in December 2021.

And while this year’s gathering of singers, musicians and community members is off, the drive to feed the needy remains a go, with modified plans.

“Our annual ‘Pack the Pod’ food drive will still take place, as our mission to help those less fortunate remains the same,” said Mr. Lawson. “These are certainly different and unusual times, and circumstances being what they are, we believe Caroling on The Circle must adapt just as so many other events have had to do in 2020. But as they say in the entertainment business, ‘The show must go on,’ and it will go on, at least in part, in the form of our annual ‘Pack the Pod’ food drive. Our mission to help those less fortunate remains the same, and we need the public’s help now more than ever.”

Beginning in mid-November and running through Dec. 31, the county will collect donated nonperishable items to distribute among nearly 20 pantries serving the public in Sussex County.

To make donations convenient for the public, this year’s campaign includes two different options for citizens to lend their support.

Food donations can be made 24/7 outside the county’s Administrative Office Building at 2 The Circle in Georgetown.

Receptacles, including a 14-by-7-foot portable storage unit, will be placed outside the county complex, allowing the public to make no-contact drops throughout the holiday season.

“Staff will routinely collect these items and ‘Pack the Pod’ before delivering food to local pantries,” Mr. Lawson said.

For those wishing to limit their public travels, the campaign will also accept monetary contributions as an alternative. Funds raised will be used to purchase food items through local suppliers to distribute among nearby pantries, Mr. Lawson said.

Checks should be made payable to Sussex County Council and mailed to Sussex County Government, County Administration, P.O. Box 589, Georgetown, DE 19947. A check should read, “Caroling on The Circle/Pack the Pod food drive,” in the memo line.

Launched in 1984 as part of the Delaware First initiative, Caroling on The Circle has provided needed food to several generations.

Counting the donations from the 2019 event, more than 750,000 food items have been collected through the Caroling on The Circle event and food drive program throughout the course of its 36-year history.

Last year, the total count was 28,750 food items. That included purchases with the nearly $4,500 in monetary contributions for the 2019 food drive program.

To reach a similar level this year, Sussex County will have to depend heavily on the general public and the business community to dig a little deeper into their cupboards and pockets, Mr. Lawson said. Every item collected and dollar raised will go to support families in the county.

“We know these are hard times. We know what the pandemic has done to many of our great small businesses and our friends and neighbors,” he said. “That’s why it’s imperative we do everything we can to pull together, to give a little more for those with a little less, to keep Sussex strong. I am confident that giving spirit that we all know and love here in Sussex County will shine bright this holiday season.”

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Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
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Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
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