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COVID alters but won't stop the community's holiday food and gifts program this year

COVID-19 restrictions might affect the way it's done, but Culver families and children will still benefit from the community's generosity this Christmas season.

"We're not the wealthiest area around, and there's a lot of families that need assistance at Christmas time, and we just try to provide a little extra food and some gifts for their kids," said Joanne Heare, the secretary and co-chair of the Culver Community Improvement Group.

Heare said the project is a 40-year Culver tradition, and the six active members of the group will make it work despite the social gathering restrictions.

The group serves families in the Culver School District. Those needing a little help with food and gifts for children this Christmas are welcome to fill out an application. Applications are available at Culver City Hall, however, the office is closed, and the public must call before entering. Applications are now also available at Culver Market or by calling Heare at 541-546-4502 to have an application mailed to them.

Applications will need to be returned to the city hall drop box, Culver Market or to the address on the application by Friday, Dec. 11.

Department of Human Services also recommends some Culver families.

Community members interested in sponsoring a child age 13 or younger may choose a tag off the Sharing Tree at the Culver Market. Each tag contains information about a child with suggested gift items. Donors will then shop for the child, wrap the presents and return them to the market by Dec. 16.

The group normally puts on Santa's Workshop in early December for about 80 children. This year, however, families with children are invited to stop by Culver City Hall between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 to pick up a bag with a couple of Christmas projects that they can make at home.

The annual silent auction and bingo event will not be held this year, which Heare said is the Culver Community Improvement Group's main fundraiser.

"We're just going to go with what we have," Heare said, adding that they will accept cash donations to help fill the gap.

The group also gives out food baskets to around 50 Culver families in need each Christmas. The group has a year-round food bank, and they often receive food donations at Christmas time. People are welcome to drop off nonperishable food at city hall. The group also buys additional food to complete the baskets.

"Our baskets of food, depending on the size of the family, are anywhere from three to five boxes of food, which includes either a chicken or turkey or ham," Heare said, "along with something for Christmas dinner plus some food to get them by."

On Dec. 22, the group and some volunteers will assemble the food boxes and gifts at Culver Christian Church. Members of the sheriff and fire departments will then deliver the bundles to the families.

"It is just awesome to watch," Heare said of the volunteers and delivery teams. "It's a very heartwarming thing to see so many people. We usually have about 50 people that come. This year, we're going to have to do it a little differently, but we're going to work it out."

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Culver Community Improvement Group Christmas Program

To apply to receive food and gifts or to donate, call Culver City Hall, 541-546-6494; visit Culver Market, 411 First Ave. in Culver; or call Joanne Heare, 541-546-4502.

Applications must be returned to Culver Market or the drop box at Culver City Hall by Friday, Dec. 11.

The Sharing Tree is located at Culver Market. Gift donations will be accepted through Dec. 16.


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