Helping Hands Ministry in Belton is close to reaching its goal of providing 1,500 holiday meals to families in need in East Bell County.

During September, which was designated Hunger Action Month, Helping Hands set a goal of raising enough money to provide holiday meals for 1,500 families. By the end of the month, North Belton Middle School handed over a check for $1,160, the money the school raised for 58 of the holiday meals the Belton ministry will offer on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Others have donated enough money to provide 1,370 holiday meals.

Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas can put a financial strain on area families, said Tasha Roberts, executive director of Helping Hands Ministry in Belton. During those holidays Helping Hands Ministry distributes groceries for meals to around 850 families living in Belton and Academy school districts. The meals are sponsored by community members who donate $20 family meals.

Each meal provides enough food for a family and includes a 10-12 pound turkey or ham, a choice of groceries, including stuffing mixes, boxed potatoes, cornbread mix, green beans, fried onions, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, canned pumpkin, pie crust mix, flour, sugar, masa, oil and more.

Helping Hands will continue to raise money for the holiday meals until the 1,500 mark is met.

The ministry is looking for people to volunteer during the holiday season.

Suggestions for adult small groups and businesses — distribute during the Thanksgiving or Christmas Food Pantry; collect funds to purchase holiday meals and space heaters for families.

Suggestions for high school and college students — hold a food drive with your club or organization for the Food for Families Food Drive; organize a team to race in Belton FFA’s H-E-B Food Rally; volunteer during the Food for Families food drive.

Suggestions for families and children — Participate in #Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday that follows Black Friday, by collecting hygiene items for families in need; gather blankets, coats and winter gear from friends and neighbors to donate to local families.

Items Helping Hands is collecting for #Giving Tuesday — toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products and razors. Items may be dropped off during business hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Ministries of Helping Hands are available for residents of Belton ISD and Academy ISD only, with the following exceptions:

The Client Choice Food Pantry and Clothing Ministry at Helping Hands will assist any family weekly whose gross income falls at or below 185 percent of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines.

TXU Energy Aid and the Reliant (CARE) Program are open to TXU and Reliant Energy customers who reside in Bell County.

All education classes offered at Helping Hands are open to the public and free of charge.

For information about volunteer opportunities call 254-939-7355 or email