Sussex carolers, groups collect 26,000 food items for community

GEORGETOWN — Only in Georgetown, Delaware at Caroling on The Circle does it “snow” indoors.

Chased inside due to light rain, Georgetown Fire Hall was packed Monday evening with carolers who rang and sang in the holiday season during a long-standing Sussex County holiday tradition that helps stock local food pantries.

An estimated 300 carolers gathered at the Station 77 fire hall on South Bedford Street, a stone’s throw from The Circle for the 36th edition of Caroling on the Circle.

Spirits were not dampened as the community united to collect more than 26,200 canned goods and other non-perishable items for local pantries that will feed needy families in the weeks and months ahead.

“That’s all you can ask for. We had a lot of people come out under unfortunate conditions. But we pivoted and everyone showed up and got in the holiday spirit by singing Christmas songs,” said Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson. “In the end, it’s all about raising food goods and non-perishable items for the community. At this time of year, it’s awesome to see how Sussex County comes out and supports our own.”

On behalf of Sussex County Council, council president Michael Vincent offered a warm welcome and a seasonal reminder.
“Please don’t forget – the presents are nice; the candy is nice – but the real reason we are celebrating is … the birth of Baby Jesus,” said Mr. Vincent.

Each year, Caroling on The Circle kicks off the holiday season for Sussex County, doubling as a community food drive to benefit local food banks.
Started in 1984 as part of the Delaware First initiative, Caroling on The Circle continues to help those in need a generation later. To date, the community has donated more than 751,000 food items through the Caroling on The Circle program throughout the course of its 36-year history.

As part of the caroling event, Sussex County once again has called on the public to “Pack the Pod” by setting up a 14-foot-by-7-foot storage trailer on The Circle near the County Administration Building. The unit served as a focal point for caroling and to heighten awareness about the food drive.

“We’re open for the rest of the year. So, we can Pack the Pod until the end of December,” said Mr. Lawson. “We disseminate that food all the way through until after Christmas. So, we really encourage people to keep coming by and bringing their donations. We’re very thankful for all the people that have donated so far. We get a lot of businesses that come together and donate money, and then we go out and buy what is needed, or they come in with their non-perishables.”

Kevin Short and Ed Shockley were back again on stage to lead the caroling. WBOC-Tv on-air personality Jimmy Hoppa served as master of ceremonies.
This year, youth choirs from St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Georgetown Middle School, Mariner Middle School and Sussex Academy performed.

Santa drops in to say hello.

“The choirs were very impressive this year. Four choirs from different area schools,” said Mr. Lawson. “You can tell they have been working very hard and it’s wonderful to see them and their families come out and support what they are doing.”

Soapy snowflakes from a suds machine fell on several members of the Mariner Middle School Choir as they geared up to sing.
Numerous local, county and state elected officials also took the stage.

“All the distinguished guests were excellent this year … led by president Mike Vincent. You could tell he sings, mostly on Sundays,” said Mr. Lawson.
Attendees were treated to free hot chocolate and cookies.

Each auxiliary from 19 fire departments/companies throughout Sussex County was asked to provide eight dozen cookies for the caroling event.
Of course, to the delight of the children, a showcase highlight was a special visit by Santa Claus.

Pack the Pod drive continues
The Caroling on The Circle food drive will continue until Dec. 31.
Items collected will be donated to approximately 20 area pantries, shelters and church organizations for distribution within Sussex County.

The public can continue to drop off canned goods and non-perishable food items between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the County Administrative Offices building on The Circle or the West Complex offices on U.S. 113, both in Georgetown.

Mr. Lawson thanked the public and those in attendance and acknowledged several participating groups. Those included Sussex County Council, county employees, Steve Class/Colonial East, First State Manufactured Housing Association, Flex World Fitness, Fuqua, Willard, Stevens & Schab law firm, Little Einsteins daycare, Sussex County Association of REALTORS®, as well as Cape Henlopen High, Delmarva Christian, G. W. Carver Academy, Georgetown Elementary, Georgetown Middle, Millsboro Middle, Milton Elementary, Sussex Academy and Sussex Central High schools.

“Once again, Sussex Countians have shown just how much generosity they have in their hearts,” Mr. Lawson said. “I continued to be amazed by and proud of this community for all that they do to make Caroling on The Circle a success year after year.”

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