Holiday Partnership behind goal
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but the elves behind the scenes of the Crook County Holiday Partnership say they need the community's help in order to be able to bring Christmas to those less fortunate.
"We need an average total of around $10,000 each year to fulfill all of the requests in addition to the food drives and food donations we collect, and this year, we are short by almost $3,000 at this point," said Vicky Ryan, who is helping head up the program.
Each Christmas season, Crook County agencies and organizations partner to eliminate duplication and to adequately serve all local eligible children, families, senior and disabled people. Through the Holiday Partnership, these people access holiday support through food boxes and gifts.
Ryan, who is the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator and Crook County Public Information Officer, said a Dec. 4 Holiday Partnership fundraiser brought in $2,400, but there are several ways people can still pitch in.
The partnership needs non-perishable food donations, such as canned food, stuffing mix and gravy mixes. People are also welcome to make monetary donations, which will be used to purchase gifts to fill gift tags left over and to purchase more food to complete the food boxes.
"We have over 100 tags that have not been collected so far," Ryan said Wednesday afternoon.
On Friday, Dec. 15, they will collect the unclaimed tags from the Trees of Joy that are located in several banks around town and try to fill them with the funds they do have.
"Otherwise, anyone can donate cash, and we do the shopping and wrapping," she said. "Anything you can give is greatly appreciated, even the small things count, and we make a lot go a long way."
Another option is for people to donate in the name of someone they would normally buy gifts for.
"We give you a really nice handmade card that tells them you donated in their name. The donation is used to purchase gifts to fill gift tag requests and additional food for the food boxes," Ryan said.
Ryan also encourages people to volunteer to help wrap the gifts, sort food and put together the food boxes.
"The number of volunteers we get each year is incredible – these are community members who just want to give back," she said.
The food boxes support a hearty holiday meal, and if they have extra food, then they put extra in each box to help families stretch it a little further. They try to give every child a toy, which is made possible by the support of the community and Toys 4 Tots. Every child who requests a bike gets a bike, thanks to volunteers at Bicycle Resource of Bend and local volunteers.
The local Department of Human Services sent out more than 2,600 applications to households that were income eligible this year to receive anything from a food box to gifts.
"Each year, the need gets greater, and it gets more difficult to fill all of the requests," Ryan said.
Postcards have been mailed to qualifying families, and Ryan reminds them to bring the postcards with them when they come to collect their food box and gifts on distribution day, which begins at 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 21 at Carey Foster Hall and the 4-H building. Deliveries will be made on Dec. 21 to those who requested it.
Gifts and food boxes will not be available after that day unless someone has to be out of town for an emergency and calls ahead of time. Gifts will be held, but not the food boxes.
Ryan said the Holiday Partnership involves many organizations and independent citizens.
"We would like to thank each and every one for the donations and support to help make Christmas a little merrier for others," she said. "This is an incredible community, and it really warms our hearts to see it come together when others are in need."