Elks Lodge preparing Christmas gifts

Published: Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 2:41 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 2:45 p.m. CDT
(BCR photo/Donna Barker)
Vanessa Hoffeditz (seated left), director of the Tri-County Council Opportunities Food Pantry in Princeton, Mary Lanham (seated right), manager of the Western Bureau County Food Pantry in Sheffield, and Princeton Elks Lodge representatives Penny Best (standing left) and Larry Lucas (standing right) pose with some of the new toys which have been collected for the Elks Lodge's annual Christmas toy and food basket distribution.

PRINCETON — The Princeton Elks Lodge is once again gearing up for its annual Christmas basket distribution.

Elks spokesperson Penny Best said the Elks Lodge expects to distribute 120 Christmas baskets this year. When the Princeton Elks Lodge started the Christmas food basket 51 years ago, the lodge distributed 12 bushel baskets of food items. At that time, the Elks members gave out the food and then brought the baskets back to the lodge for use the following year. About 10 years after the start of the program, the Elks Lodge added the toy collection as part of the Christmas outreach, bringing one boy gift or one girl gift to each family with children, Best said.

As the outreach has developed through the years, many community groups and individuals have helped with their contributions to the Elks program, Best said. For instance, the Elks Lodge gets the remaining toys from the Bureau County United Way which are not distributed in the United Way outreach. The Browning dealership (now Prescott Brothers) has its Mike Young toy collection. The Princeton Rotary Club and Heartland Bank and Trust make monetary donations. Piehl Motors takes toy donations and also gives a monetary donation, Best said.

The food for the Christmas baskets is bought at Sullivan’s Foods in Princeton, with the money for the food raised by the Elks members, Best said. All baskets contain exactly the same items, with more of the items given to the larger families. This year’s Christmas food basket includes food for a Christmas day breakfast, the noon meal and additional food for an evening meal, followed by popcorn for popping that night, Best said.

In addition to the food and toy baskets, last year the Princeton Elks Lodge distributed about 100 new coats to area children, Best said. About 300 area young children, who are not yet in school, are served through the Elks Christmas outreach, she said.

To help with this year’s collection, toys and coats may be taken to the Princeton Elks Lodge, at 1105 E. Peru St., though the lodge is closed on Sunday and Monday, Best said.

The Christmas baskets will be distributed between 9 a.m. and noon on Dec. 21 and people have to be home to receive them, Best said. If no one is home, the baskets cannot be left.

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