Attention, professional and amateur peanut pushers! It's that time of year once again.
The WMRN Peanut Push, the annual fundraiser for the Junior Service Guild Christmas Clearinghouse, is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Founders Park in downtown Marion.
One of Marion County’s most unique holiday traditions began in 1969 when WMRN radio host Charlie Evers teamed with the Marion Junior Service Guild to create the Peanut Push contest. The event features contestants - on their hands and knees - who attempt to push a peanut in its shell across the street using only their noses.
The Junior Service Guild has been operating the Christmas Clearinghouse since 1948, according to its Facebook page. Jodi Riffe, coordinator of the Christmas Clearinghouse for more than two decades, said 1,300 children from 458 families are registered for the event this year. She said she's seeking organizations, businesses, families, and individuals who might be interested in "adopting" families.
"I strongly believe that every child deserves to smile during the holidays, and that's why we do what we do," Riffe said. "The 1,300 children registered is a lot more than we've ever had in the past. If I can get 100 or 125 families adopted out of that number, we'll be doing wonderful. When I talk about adoption of a family, what that consists of is a business, a church, a school, or an individual family can call me and let me know what size family they want to adopt. If you want a family with one child or two or whatever, we can match you up with that family."
Riffe said the Junior Service Guild will provide contact information for each adopted family, including children's names, ages, and a list of some things they would like for Christmas.
"Whatever is bought for them, I know they'll greatly appreciate it," Riffe said.
Riffe said the Peanut Push is always an exciting time for the Junior Service Guild. She appreciates all of the support the community provides for the event each year. Paul James from iHeartMedia Marion and former WMRN-AM morning show host Jeff Ruth are co-hosting the activities on Dec. 3 at Founders Park.
"We've got a lot of new people pushing peanuts this year. I really wanted to get some new people involved, so we're excited about that," Riffe said. "I'm still asking for people to get involved. We'll have a children's Peanut Push. They'll get to use a broom to push the peanuts. I think that's going to be a lot of fun. I would love to see as many people as can get involved to support the less-fortunate families of Marion."
The Marion Area Harley Riders Association has been a major supporter of the Junior Service Guild Christmas Clearinghouse for many years, Riffe said, along with the Midway Tavern and the OK Cafe. In 2021, the Harley Riders raised $35,515.50 and OK Cafe contributed $4,380 to Christmas Clearinghouse. Peanut Push royalty raised more than $4,000 last year.
"Without our community partners, we wouldn't be able to do this and provide things for the kids and families," Riffe said. "So, we're very thankful for all the support we receive each year."
Riffe said the Christmas Clearinghouse is in need of non-perishable food items, blankets, hats, gloves, toys, books, and monetary donations to support the effort this year. The clearinghouse will open its doors to receive donations beginning Monday, Dec. 5 at 1680 Marion Waldo Road on the campus of Marion County Children Services. The facility will be open from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday from Dec. 5-16. Distribution day is Dec. 17.
For information about the 2022 Christmas Clearinghouse, call 740-341-5871 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email: email@example.com | Twitter: @AndrewACCarter
This article originally appeared on Marion Star: Peanut Push kicks off Christmas Clearinghouse holiday campaign