The Jefferson City-based Missouri River Quilt Guild is used to giving back to the community. Many of the group's 120 members contribute to the guild's various ongoing service projects, such as making quilts for Habitat For Humanity or lap blankets for elderly veterans going on the Honor Flight or receiving care in the VA Hospital.
But it wasn't until about four years ago that "stocking stuffers" took on a whole new meaning for the group - specifically, for member C.J. Cornelius.
Moved by the number of home foreclosures and the increase in demand at local food pantries, Cornelius started the Fill Their Stockings Project. Each year, the Quilt Guild stitches and collects stockings to donate to SERVE, Inc. in Fulton, the Samaritan Center in Jefferson City and the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri in Columbia.
"We knew from reading the paper our neighbors were hurting, we saw so many people who were having their homes repossessed," Cornelius said. "And Christmas was a tough time. The idea was, if we gave each one of the food pantries (the stockings), they would use them how they could to help."
Each group in turn uses them to help those in need in their service areas. SERVE donates the stockings to several girl's shelters and elderly people in Callaway County, Samaritan Center donates them to families who need assistance and also receives a matching donation for each pair from an anonymous donor and the food bank uses them as premiums in annual radiothons and other projects.