Food drive for Thanksgiving Day Feast is back on

The food drive for the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance’s Community Thanksgiving Day Feast is back on!

Initially, organizers had said the group that has coordinated the food drive in the past was unable to do so this year, so no bags of food would be distributed after the dinner, as in years past.

But others have now stepped forward and will be collecting and bagging “sustainable shelf items,” said the Rev. Celeste Lasich, pastor at First Presbyterian Church and co-chair of the dinner’s organizing committee.

Items from the list below may be dropped off at both Dillon’s stores in Hays; from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26, and Wednesday, Nov. 27, at the Rose Garden Banquet Hall, 2850 E. Eighth St.; or individuals may bring items with them to the feast.

The Thanksgiving Day dinner will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Rose Garden.

Donors are asked to select items from the following list:

Dried pastas and canned sauces, boxed macaroni and cheese, instant potatoes, pancake/waffle mix and syrup, canned soups, ramen noodles, canned meats, canned fruits, canned vegetables, cereal, peanut butter, jelly, boxed dinner mixes, and rice.

Volunteers will be bagging the items during the feast, and bags of food will be distributed immediately afterwards, Lasich said.

Volunteers are still needed to help with the dinner. This year volunteers may sign up using a new online portal created by the United Way of Ellis County. That website is, then clicking on “Volunteer Now,” then clicking on “Community Thanksgiving Dinner.”

Or, volunteers may call the First Call for Help office at (785) 623-2800. The deadline for volunteer sign-up is Tuesday, Nov. 26.


Hays churches are drop-off sites for international Christmas project

Two churches in Ellis County are among 5,000 U.S. drop-off locations collecting shoebox gifts for needy children overseas during Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week, which ends on Monday, Nov. 25.

Drop-off times and dates at the two Hays churches, Messiah Lutheran and CrossPoint church, are listed below.

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, a disaster relief organization headquartered in Boone, N.C. Each year thousands of individuals pack shoeboxes with toys, school supplies and personal hygiene items to distribute to needy children around the world.

For many of the children, this shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.

The Samaritan’s Purse project partners with local churches across the globe to deliver these tangible expressions of God’s love to children in need. In 2018 more than 10.6 million shoeboxes were collected worldwide, with more than 6,800 of those collected in Northwest Kansas.

This year’s remaining drop-off days and hours are listed below:

Messiah Lutheran Church, 2000 Main St. — Friday: 4-6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: Noon-2 p.m.; Monday: 9-11 a.m.

CrossPoint Church, 1300 Harvest Road — Friday: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 4-6 p.m.; Monday: 9-11 a.m.

Participants can find gift ideas at www.samaritanspurse/occ. Those packing boxes are asked to donate $9 to pay the box’s shipping fee overseas. Participants may do this in one of two ways:

They may place the $9 inside their shoebox gift before taking it to the drop-off site. Or, they can donate the $9 per shoebox gift online through “Follow Your Box” and receive a tracking label to discover its destination.

Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement.

More information about Operation Christmas Child is available from Rachel Albin, Northwest Kansas coordinator, at (785) 639-1325 or


First Call seeks building campaign funds

First Call for Help of Ellis County is encouraging individuals to participate in Giving Tuesday on Dec. 3 to help with the organization’s “First Step Building Campaign.”

Giving Tuesday is a 24-hour global campaign on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving that encourages people to donate to their favorite charities through online giving. First Call’s website to do this is

Currently there is no type of housing to assist homeless individuals in Ellis County. The building campaign will change that, said Linda Mills, First Call’s executive director.

The $250,000 campaign will provide remodeling of First Call’s existing structure at 607 E. 13th to include four bunkrooms with bathrooms, a kitchen, a laundry area, an office, and heating and air conditioning.

“Our mission is to provide temporary housing to families living in Ellis County who are struggling with homelessness and who are committed to overcoming the obstacles they face in securing housing and building a better life,” Mills said.

USD 489 reports show that 27 students are living in doubled up situations due to housing issues.

Surveys conducted in Hays over the past three years show that between 5 and 21 individuals are homeless, “and more than 70 are at great risk of homelessness.”

Mills said, “Our vision is that First Step Housing participants will be successful in creating a life for their family with housing stability, self-sufficiency and security.”


Messiah Lutheran schedules Advent service

Messiah Lutheran Church, 2000 Main, will have a service featuring Advent activities beginning at 5 p.m. Dec. 4. A free turkey dinner will be served to all who attend. Goodwill donations will be accepted, with proceeds going to Dream Camp.

The evening also will feature music and games for children. Sheryl Butler will present information on how the camp, located at Cedar Bluff Lake, offers summer activities for the children of addicts.

An Advent worship service will follow at 7 p.m.

The church’s Christmas worship service will be at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 15.


Annual toy-making event is Dec. 7 at FHSU

The Department of Applied Technology at Fort Hays State University will host community volunteers to assemble approximately 200 wooden toys from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. The event will take place in the Center for Applied Technology’s wood shop.

“The program is designed to spread holiday cheer to local children who may not otherwise receive Christmas presents,” according to a news release. This is the 30th year the department has hosted the “Fred R. Ruda Teaming Up for Tots” toy- making event.

This year volunteers will be assembling a small wooden SUV that will go to children ages 2 through 6.

All ages are welcome to volunteer for toy production, but children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult, organizers said. Jobs include sanding, running parts from station to station, putting on wheels, attaching parts, finishing and, for those who have experience, running some machine operations. The event is come and go. 


Singer-songwriter to speak to Hays After 5

Christmas music will be in the air at the Hays After 5 Christian women’s meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9. The event will take place at the Rose Garden Banquet Hall, 2350 E. Eighth St.

Singer-songwriter Jan Schiferl of Fordyce, Neb., will lead attendees in holiday songs. Then she will provide a humorous and inspiring talk about how her life’s plans were changed and how she coped.

Schiferl was the 2013 Nebraska Mother of the Year. She and her family operate a small ranch where they train horses, raise cattle, and host events such as Cowboys Christmas.

Cost of the dinner program is $12.50. Reservations are due by Thursday, Dec. 5, to or to (785) 202-1036. Hays After 5 is affiliated with Stonecroft Ministry of Overland Park.