The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith Alumni Association is accepting select food items for a holiday food drive, which began this week and will run until Dec. 13.

The drive, which was organized with the help of the River Valley Regional Food Bank, will gather donations to give out during the holidays to help Fort Smith families in need.

Nikki Cureton of Fort Smith, assistant director of alumni affairs, said there "is a huge need for food drives in this area, especially during the holidays."

"According to the River Valley Regional Food bank, one in six people in the eight-county area are food insecure, and one in three children and seniors are food insecure," she said. "We want to do something positive for our community, a community that is willing to do so much for UAFS."

Clarence Smith, director of agency and volunteer relations at the River Valley Regional Food Bank, said donating canned goods is "an affordable and meaningful gift."

"For our community, when many give a little, we can do great things," he said. "We are seeing more demand for food during this year’s holidays than in previous years, and we depend on food drives to help meet the need of our community’s cry for food assistance." The following items will be accepted for donation: holiday spices such as sage, cumin, salt and pepper, canned cranberry sauce, canned green beans, dry box stuffing, canned yams/sweet potatoes, canned cream of mushroom soup, other non-perishable holiday meal items and any personal hygiene items.

Donations can be dropped off in the alumni office anytime between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, contact Cureton at 479-788-7241 or