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Live Thankfully’s Party with a Purpose event Sunday hosted 100 volunteers, who bagged 758 bags of groceries to feed 355 families — an all-time high that blew coordinators away.

“It’s really overwhelming, when you think about first, it’s the holidays, and everybody’s schedule is busy; and secondly, just, we don’t do any other advertising aside from social media,” coordinator Britney Drake said. “The fact we had this many people show up is just crazy. It makes you feel good, living in a small community and knowing somebody can start something and so many people will come together and make it happen.”

This was the second year for Live Thankfully’s grocery drive and food bagging event. Proceeds went to families with children out of school during the two-week holiday break; the goal was to provide kid-friendly options for busy families, Drake said.

“Our goal is to have a variety of food in each bag,” she said. “Live Thankfully is kid-driven. We feed kids over Christmas break — that is our goal. It’s all kid-friendly: juice boxes, macaroni and cheese, animal crackers, non-perishables; cereal, oatmeal, green beans, corn, carrots, goldfish.”

After sorting and bagging groceries, volunteers tied up the bags and prepared them for pickup at local schools. School counselors will distribute the bags to families at the break, Drake said.

Volunteer Tami Burch was busy tying bags Sunday as people dropped groceries at her table. This was her first year volunteering with Live Thankfully, but the organization’s mission drew her in from the start, she said.

“So far it’s very overwhelming, and I’m extremely proud of our community and these kids that have come out to help raise all this food, gather it up, package it up,” Burch said. “It means a lot to see all these people here.”

Burch said the coordinators’ efforts drew her to the project. After seeing their work last year, she knew she wanted to get involved.

Last year’s inaugural effort gathered, organized and bagged enough food to feed 200 families, and organizers credited students with making it a success. Students from Stone Middle School, Trinity Christian Academy and Chisum did the majority of the food drive. After two months of collecting, volunteers had roughly 50% of the donations in food and the other half in cash, coordinator Christine Lenoir said previously. One hundred volunteers gathered at Chisum Elementary School to process the donations. Live Thankfully provided 787 bags for families during the holiday school break.

Burch was proud of this year’s Party with a Purpose and said people should check out Live Thankfully’s work ahead of next year.

“They need to see what’s going on here,” she said. “And it’s very rewarding.”

Macon Atkinson is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6963 or macon.atkinson@theparisnews.com.

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