Inter-Faith Ministries kicks off its 50th Operation Holiday

Inter-Faith Ministries will kick off its 50th holiday food and coat drive today.

For half a century, Operation Holiday has helped needy families in the Wichita area, and this year's goal is to raise $300,000 and collect 100,000 food items. Money raised will be used to purchase food vouchers and supplement donated food.

Clean, warm coats/jackets in good condition are also needed (all sizes for children and adults).

Last year, more than 14,000 people received aid through Operation Holiday, nearly half were children. The goal this year is 15,000, Inter-Faith Ministries said.

Shawn Lancelot, president of Bank of America, is this year's chair.

During the drive, Inter-Faith Ministries aims to again raise 100,000 items of non-perishable food such as cereal, canned vegetables, canned fruit, peanut butter, pasta, soup, rice, dried beans and canned meat.

The need has been rising since 2008, the charity says, including a 20.5 percent increase in children in poverty. Only three other states have seen great increases. Kansas is among 10 states ranked above the national average for households needing food.

More on this year's schedule of events, application in-take sites, and volunteer opportunities will be available later today at