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Holiday helpers launch project

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By Bob Reichman

With the holiday season quickly approaching, Sumter County Long Beards Annual Turkey Hunters Care Food Drive was launched last week with the hope of providing many needy families in the local community with substantial holiday meals.
The food drive will continue until Dec. 7. While the organization will be providing turkeys for Thanksgiving, they will continue collecting food goods to help needy families in the community, said Gary Marriage, president of Sumter County Long Beards. “Food received after our food drive ends will be donated to a local food pantry to continue the help that is needed.”
The Sumter County Long Beards has donated turkeys each Thanksgiving since 2006 and has helped over 500 families in our community, he said. “With the cooperation of Bill Farmer, the Sumter County Sheriff Department, the Sumter County Fire and EMS headquarters, Winn Dixie of Bushnell, Wildwood Police Department, and Jackie’s Market in Webster together we will help over 100 families during this holiday season.”
This holiday season, the organization is seeking help with its Turkey Hunters Care Food Drive.
“Families in our community have had some rough times and you can help them by taking any non-perishables and canned foods to one of the supporters of this program,” Marriage said.
As an additional option, Winn Dixie on North Main Street, Bushnell, will be selling food bags at $5 each. These bags contain canned and non-perishable items necessary for a family’s holiday dinner. The Sumter County Long Beards will provide all turkeys needed for the Hunters Care food Drive.
Persons interested in helping in the drive can drop off food items at: Sumter County Sheriff 0ffice, 1010 N. Main St., Bushnell; Sumter County Fire and EMS headquarters, 7375 Powell Rd., Wildwood; Sumter County Fire and EMS logistics office, 910 N. Main St, Bushnell; Wildwood Police Department. 100 Huey St., Wildwood; Jackie’s Market, 329 N. Market Blvd., Webster and Winn Dixie, 1122 N. Main St., Bushnell.
There are about 400 members of the Sumter County Long Beards but new members and volunteers are always welcomed, Marriage said.
Each year, the Sumter County Long Beards raise funds for their outreach programs through the Annual Hunting Heritage Banquet, dove shoot, Women in The Outdoors, turkey shoot, Christmas tree sale at Beef O’Brady’s and donations from the community.
A large portion of the funds raised are given back to the community by way of several events, the largest of which is “Jakes Day.”
This annual day of fun for children and their families was enjoyed by over two thousand people this past year, Marriage said.
While the Long Beards has its roots in hunting, the organization is very active in conservation issues and in providing community support.
For more information or if you would like to join the Sumter County Long Beards please call: Gary Marriage - 793-6814; Shirley Parker - 793-4822 or Kathy Brannen - 793-5852.