ROGERSVILLE — The Of One Accord ministry exceeded last year’s record last month by distributing a total of 1,500 Christmas food boxes to the needy during the holiday season.

In 2019, the Rogersville-based ministry distributed 1,300 Christmas food boxes, and in 2018 it was 1,100.

Each box contained canned vegetables, mashed potatoes, stuffing, dessert mix rolls, and other fixings for a traditional holiday meal. Recipients also had their choice of a ham or a frozen turkey.

Recipients are determined eligible based on their household income and the number of people in their household.

Of One Accord Director Sheldon Livesay said the pandemic can be blamed for this year’s increased need. Many families have seen their breadwinners lose work due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

Livesay expressed gratitude to the contributors and volunteers who helped make the ministry’s Christmas programs happen this year.

“Christmas is our most favorite time of year,” Livesay told the Times News. “We see God do many miracles to bring about the ability to serve these families at year end. This is our time to exchange smiles, wishing families a cheery Merry Christmas. We offer our greatest thanks to every donor, every church and every volunteer that makes this possible. Only God can make it happen.”

Approximately 745 Christmas food box recipients lined up in downtown Rogersville on the morning of Dec. 19 to receive their box via drive-by pickup at the ministry’s Shepherd Center.

Volunteers from the Rogersville Heritage Association’s Heritage Lites, the youth of the Rogersville United Methodist Church and members from Faith Assembly helped load food boxes into vehicles.

Another 400 food boxes were distributed by churches and other organizations during their Christmas for the Children Drive By parties throughout December, and 355 were distributed at the ministry’s Church Hill food pantry.

Among the volunteers in Rogersville was Pastor Billy Ray Courtney, who is one of the ministry’s founding members who has recently returned to the board.

“This is our opportunity as a community to let people know what a privilege it is to serve them,” Courtney said. “Over these 33 years, volunteers and clients that regularly interact have become a part of the large family in our county that know and love each other. We’ve prayed with them, cried with them and we end the year wishing them a blessed Christmas, demonstrating the Love of Jesus.”