For over 70 years, the Preston Elks Lodge, starting with five families to serve in Franklin County to provide a Christmas Basket with food and hygiene items, has hit up to as many as 808 families during that time.
“This year we served 723 families with nonperishable items in a large basket and perishable items in a smaller basket,” offered Jackie Andersen, Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler. “This is my sixth year overseeing this project, and when those baskets go out the door to be delivered to so many families in need, the holiday spirit finally sets in. I cannot thank our surrounding communities enough for their help and selflessness during this time. It is a lot of work but every second is worth it!”
The Elks’ goal is to look for ways how best to serve their community by making a significant difference through charitable projects to meet local needs. The yearly Christmas Baskets is just one of the many ways of their serving.
Planning and assembling the baskets is an ongoing process throughout the year, starting with contacting the bishops in the many wards in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other religions in Franklin, Northern Cache, and Caribou Counties who make a list of people who may need help, giving names, addresses, and the number within the household. The Elks also contact all the schools and the Health Department.
The Elks start contacting and collecting for donated items throughout the year. “Items not donated, the Elks purchase with money donated by our communities,” said Andersen.
Many community volunteers, including Young Men and Young Women youth groups in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Franklin County Search & Rescue, and the Boy Scouts, meet at the Preston Lodge two weeks before Christmas to help assemble baskets and put items into the baskets that are delivered to families. The baskets were delivered a week before Christmas this year on Saturday, December 18.
Each family receives two baskets, a larger basket that contains multiple canned items such as veggies, soup, tuna, sugar, flour, pasta, cereal, peanut butter, soap, toilet paper, and toothbrushes. The smaller basket has ham, beef, game, eggs, cheese, milk, butter, fresh and frozen potatoes.
“We’d like to thank those companies who donated items for the baskets,” said Mike Oxx, Leading Knight of Elks Preston Lodge who has been an Elks member for seven years and is over the Christmas Basket project for the first time this year
The Elks thank: Canyon Creek Dental and Dr. Kelley’s Office, both in Preston; Cherry Creek Dental in Richmond, Utah. Canned and packaged food came from food drives in Bancroft, Preston, Malad, Westside Schools and Logan Food Bank. Meat and cheese were donated by Lowers, Idaho Fish and Game, Schreiber’s and Gossners. Stoddard Farms, Beutler Farms, and Gibbs Farms donated the fresh potatoes. Stokes (sugar), Ritewoods (eggs), Gilt Edge (flour), and Conagra in American Falls, donated frozen potatoes. The Elks Lodge purchased the toilet paper, soap, cereal, milk and butter.
“A special thanks to Jackie Andersen, the Elks Exalted Ruler. This project wouldn’t go as smooth without her guidance. We highly appreciate the Elks members, too, who volunteered and gave donations,” said Oxx. “This is the greatest project. I love doing it. We have a lot of fun doing it. That’s what Elks is all about…giving back. We’d like to thank those who live in our community who volunteered as well. We can’t do anything without the community helping who came out to give a hand filling the Christmas Baskets this year.”