Christmas inspires giving, especially with Holiday Basket Project
By Gene Kemmeter
The Christmas season inspires a feeling and a spirit that can last all year long. It’s that time of the year that best exhibits the saying “it’s better to give that to receive.” There’s something about Christmas and the holiday season that seems to bring out the best in people.
Many churches and organizations routinely collect for various programs throughout the year. The Boy Scouts and Postal Service employees have door-to-door food drives. Make A Difference Day offers volunteers an opportunity to help with raking leaves at the homes of the elderly and others.
While most people enjoy their Thanksgiving meals in the company of family and friends, residents of the Plover area through various churches and members of the Moose Lodge deserve kudos for providing Thanksgiving Day meals for the less fortunate, shut-ins and those who want some company on the holiday.
Those are just a few examples of people helping others at different times of the year.
But when it comes to Christmas, many more people step up to give to charitable causes and help others in the spirit of the season.
Hundreds offer to spend time in the freezing temperatures to ring bells for the Salvation Army so people will drop money into the red kettles. That money will provide funds for food and shelter to thousands throughout the year.
Fortunately, Portage County has an organization, the Holiday Basket Project, to act as a coordinator so the various agencies and individuals can provide services to the less fortunate at Christmas without duplication of services.
More than four decades ago, county organizations wanted to provide food and gifts to residents, but found some other groups had already gone to the home with food and gifts before they arrived.
The Holiday Basket Project, an organization of volunteers, was formed to act as an umbrella to avoid duplication of service and dispense information to people who are willing to make a donation. The project accepts applications from families and individuals in need and matches each with someone who will sponsor a holiday basket.
The project then solicits individuals, families, businesses, service and social clubs, churches, nonprofit agencies, school groups, teen groups, scouts and university organizations to be holiday basket sponsors who choose to assist a family with food and gifts. The sponsors then agree to deliver the baskets in time for Christmas and arrange a delivery time with the recipients.
Annual major sponsors include Operation Bootstrap, which provides nearly half of the baskets; the Salvation Army; St. Paul’s United Methodist Church; Knights of Columbus; Elks Lodge; and St. Bronislava Catholic Church.
Toys come from the Christmas Is For Children project which broadcasts the requests on radio station WSPT and listeners agree to purchase toys for children who have made requests.
More than 1,100 baskets will be donated this year. A donation can enrich the lives of others, proving that it is better to give than to receive.