Community Christmas collecting started in May with the announcement of this year’s date for the annual Christmas in July at Freer Auto Body.
The event is led by Freer Auto Body Owner and President Tim Freer’s daughters, Lily and Taylor Freer, whose event last year raised more than $40,000.
“It was a huge success,” said the girls’ mother, Carrie Freer.
Freer Auto Body is one of the largest contributors to the United Way’s and The Telegraph’s Community Christmas, which collects items all over the Riverbend region through business collection centers and individuals.
“Those individuals and families in need should have a nice holiday,” said the girls’ grandmother, Margaret Freer. “We appreciate the community supporting us and enabling us to give.”
United Way’s annual Community Christmas donation drive officially begins in November, but Christmas in July helps to exponentially jumpstart the campaign.
The top needs in the community generally are for new coats, blankets and household and personal care items. Other items collected through the program include non-perishable food, new and unwrapped toys for kids of all ages, baby formula and diapers, and new clothes, socks, hats, gloves and scarves.
Alton High School also contributes to Community Christmas through its annual non-perishable food drive, which typically provides 90 percent of the food donations for the program.
“We are once again enlisting the help of the community with Christmas in July,” said Margaret Freer, who works at Freer Auto Body with her son and his wife. “We have great prizes this year.”
Raffle items included a Norwegian Cruise Line getaway, donated by Freer Auto Body; $2,000 in cash donated by Axalta Coating Systems; four St. Louis Cardinals “green seats,” donated by Amy and John Barnerd; four St. Louis Blues “glass seats,” donated by Alton Materials; and four tickets to Maroon 5 on Sept. 13 at Scottrade Center, donated by Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC.
All raffle items were donated, and the printing was donated by McBride Printing. Thus, 100 percent of the event proceeds goes to helping families in need at Christmastime through Community Christmas, a Riverbend-wide outreach program sponsored by the United Way and The Telegraph.