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Holiday giving nets more than $14,000 for HFS

The cold weather didn't keep people away from the Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train stop in Hastings. With the help of the Christ's Family Church, Merchants Bank's 10 Days of Giving and Swipe Out Hunger, food and coin drives at the schools, and a gift from Canadian Pacific Railway at the Holiday Train event, a total of $14,203 and 2,767 pounds of food was raised for Hastings Family Service, the organization reported last week.

Christ's Family Church hosted the third annual Holiday Train Jamboree for people to enjoy pre-train activities and holiday fun.

"We want the Jamboree to be a fun, free, community wide event that draws people to the Holiday Train and spreads Christmas cheer," said Ali Fairbanks, event organizer. "We think there were about 800 people just at the church."

There were mini tractor-train rides, bonfires and s'mores, cookie decorating, mini golf and pictures with Santa. A large crowd at the train ensures that Hastings continues to be a stop for the Holiday Train in the future.

Leading up to the train, Merchants Bank hosted its annual 10 Days of Giving, encouraging their patrons to contribute food and funds, and engaging youth in the community to be a part of giving back for the holidays. The elementary schools' food drives collected 1,472 pounds of food, and the middle and high school coin drives raised $3397.07, making it possible for the Youth Impact Council to adopt eight of the largest families for Project Share.

"The kids really get into it and learn they can make a difference in their community no matter their age," said Bruce Goblirsch, president of Merchants Bank in Hastings.

Merchants Bank's efforts provided $2,664 for Project Share and HFS was also the winner in the Swipe Out Hunger facebook voting contest, receiving $5,000 thanks to everyone who voted for HFS.

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train rolled into town with a $4,500 gift for the food shelf this year. The MOMS Club provided holiday concessions for train attendees and Cub Scout Pack 278 collected 1,116 pounds of food at the event.

"We are so grateful for the many ways the people of our community come together to help feed the hungry and make the holidays a little brighter for those who are struggling to make ends meet," said Chris Koop, executive director of Hastings Family Service. "There is hunger in Hastings and support from the community makes it possible to meet the needs of our neighbors."