The seasons may be changing, but Sussex County's generosity is as sure and constant as the holidays on the calendar. Now, the community is poised once again to come together to help those in need as the holiday season is set to begin.
Sussex County government this week kicks off its yearly food drive for community food banks and will celebrate that effort during the 34th annual Caroling on The Circle event, set for 6:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 4, in downtown Georgetown. The food drive will extend throughout November and December.
Each year, the community singing event doubles as a food drive for hungry families in Sussex County, drawing hundreds of residents - along with the support of area schools, businesses and civic organizations - who turn out to sing Christmas carols and collect canned goods for area pantries, churches and food banks.
In 2016, the food drive collected almost 20,000 items for nearly a dozen organizations. Sussex County organizers are hopeful to collect as many or more this year, and are encouraging the public to do their part now to Pack the POD - a 14-foot-by-seven-foot portable storage shed that will be set up at The Circle - with food items for local food pantries. Since its inception in the 1980s, Caroling on The Circle has raised almost 700,000 items for local food pantries.
County Administrator Todd F. Lawson said Caroling on The Circle helps the community do more than spread cheer - it exemplifies the county's spirit of neighbors helping neighbors.
"Our community has a proud tradition of being strong and self-reliant. It's one of the qualities that makes Sussex County so special, and a great place to live and work," Lawson said. "But just as independent as Sussex Countians can be, this community has an even greater capacity for helping one another, especially those in need. Each year, Caroling on The Circle reminds us how giving our community is. I'm proud of that, and I look forward to our residents, businesses, schools and other organizations stepping up once again in 2017."
As always, the historic Sussex County Courthouse and picturesque Circle will serve as the backdrop for an evening of traditional and Spanish carols, as well as a visit from Santa Claus. WBOC TV's on-air personality Jimmy Hoppa will emcee this year's event, which will feature local singing artists Kevin Short and Ed Shockley. Also joining in the performances will be the Georgetown Middle School and Mariner Middle School choirs and the El Centro Cultural group.
Following the festivities, free cookies and hot chocolate will be available for all to enjoy at the Georgetown Fire Company, one block south of The Circle. The event is free to attend. Participants only have to bring non-perishable food items for donation.
Food items will be collected that night, but donations can be dropped off from now until the end of December, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at the County Administrative Offices building, next to the courthouse, in Georgetown. Donations also can be made at the County Administrative Offices West Complex, U.S. 113, in Georgetown, and at the Delaware Coastal Airport terminal building on Rudder Lane, just east of Georgetown.
Caroling on The Circle will be held regardless of weather. In the event of rain or snow, the event will be moved inside the fire hall on South Bedford Street. For more information, call 302-855-7700.