Sussex County government kicks off the week of Nov. 4 its yearly food drive for community food banks and will celebrate that effort during the 36th annual Caroling on The Circle event, set for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9 in downtown Georgetown.

The food drive will extend throughout November and December.

Each year, the community singing event doubles as a food drive for hungry families in Sussex County, drawing hundreds of residents, along with the support of area schools, businesses and civic organizations, who turn out to sing Christmas carols and collect canned goods for area pantries, churches and food banks.

In 2018, the food drive collected almost 31,500 items for nearly a dozen organizations. County officials aim to collect as many or more this year, and are encouraging the public to do their part now to “Pack the Pod” — a 14-foot by 7-foot portable storage shed that will be set up at The Circle — with food items for local food pantries. Since its inception in the 1980s, Caroling on The Circle has raised more than 700,000 items for local food pantries.

County Administrator Todd F. Lawson said Caroling on The Circle helps the community come together for a common cause, a familiar theme in a place where neighbors help neighbors.

“I am tremendously proud of what we are able to accomplish each year through the Caroling on The Circle campaign, but even more proud of what it says about this community,” said Lawson. “Sussex Countians always step up when it counts, and I have every expectation that our neighbors, friends, and fellow citizens will once again show the compassion and care that is found in every corner of this county.”

The historic Sussex County Courthouse and Circle will serve as the backdrop for an evening of traditional and Spanish carols, as well as a visit from Santa Claus. WBOC TV’s on-air personality Jimmy Hoppa will emcee this year’s event, which will feature local singing artists Kevin Short and Ed Shockley. Also joining in the performances will be the Georgetown Middle School, Mariner Middle School and Sussex Academy choirs, as well as the El Centro Cultural group.

Following the festivities, free cookies and hot chocolate will be available for all at the Georgetown Fire Company, one block south of The Circle. The event is free to attend. Participants only have to bring non-perishable food items for donation.

Food items will be collected that night, but donations can be dropped off through the end of December, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at the Sussex County Administrative Offices building, 2 The Circle, next to the courthouse. Donations also can be made at the Sussex County Administrative Offices West Complex, 22215 Dupont Highway, Georgetown; and at the terminal building of Delaware Coastal Airport, 21553 Rudder Lane, east of Georgetown.

Caroling on The Circle will be held regardless of weather. In the event of rain or snow, it will be moved inside the fire hall on South Bedford Street.

For more, call 855-7700.