When Christmas arrives, the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana wants local families in need to celebrate the holiday with a proper meal.
The organization has planned free food distributions to provide families with items for traditional Christmas meals, said Megan Sikes, the food bank's communication/advocacy manager.
The first Hope of the Holidays distribution is open to Porter County residents and takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at Ivy Tech Community College, 3100 Ivy Tech Drive in Valparaiso.
Lake County residents can obtain food during a distribution from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Radisson Hotel's celebrity ballroom west, 800 E. 81st Ave. in Merrillville.
Sikes said each of the distribution sites will offer the same food items, which include turkeys and stuffing.
"We're trying to get food to as many people as possible," Sikes said.
The format for each distribution will be similar to the food bank's Pantry on the Go events. People obtaining food are asked to bring valid proof of residency and bags or boxes to carry the items they receive.
Much of the food available during the upcoming events will be purchased from a $20,000 donation NIPSCO contributed to the Hope for the Holidays program, Sikes said.
Area residents also have an opportunity to help generate funding for the program by attending an event from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Friday at Jelly Pancake House, 399 E. 81st Ave. in Merrillville.
A portion of Jelly's sales will be contributed to the Hope for the Holidays program, Sikes said.
People unable to stay for a full meal can purchase "grab-and-go bags" at the restaurant.
Chris White, publisher of The Times Media Co., Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and NIPSCO CEO Jim Stanley are among local officials who will serve and greet customers during the fundraiser.