Voluntary Action Center Brings Christmas in July

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COLUMBIA - The Voluntary Action Center served an estimated 400 people at its 20th annual Christmas in July Thursday at Missouri United Methodist Church.

Christmas in July was open to all members of the community, and Voluntary Action Center Executive Director Cindy Mustard said the event's purpose was three-fold: to raise awareness of needs throughout the year, not just during Christmas time, to provide a meal and presents for those in need, and to raise money for the organization.

The event featured a holiday-themed meal, holiday music, toys, games, crafts and Santa Claus for participants. The organization also sold raffle tickets for prizes like season passes for Columbia Entertainment Company, tickets to the True/False Film Festival and various gift cards for local restaurants and theaters.

Mustard said this year's event was the most successful yet, bringing in almost 23,000 dollars (compared to 3,000 dollars the first year) and serving the most people. She said it was the first year the event had ever run out of chicken.

Volunteers also took a moment to thank Mustard at the end of the event. Mustard will be retiring in October after about 20 years with the organization and 47 years in social services total.