For the 44th year in a row, the Othello Eagles Lodge, Moose Lodge, Lions Club and Adams County Fire District #5 are coming together to support the annual community Christmas basket charity, which provides food and blankets to families in need in time for the holidays.
In a mounting effort to involve more of the community, local churches, schools and medical facilities participate in referring families in need. Those families are reviewed by the program’s committee and names are accepted by referral only.
The program has continued to grow year after year due to support from members of the community. Decades ago during the first Christmas basket charity event, volunteers delivered gift baskets to five families; last year the program delivered over 350 baskets, each containing a canned ham, flour, sugar, canned vegetables, juice, soups, cake mixes, potatoes, apples, onions and bread, according to organizers. Toys, clothing and blankets are also donated according to availability and need.
Much of the Christmas Basket produce has been donated by various businesses in the community.
Onions have been donated by Easterday Farms; boxes have been donated by Harvest Fresh; potatoes and onions have been donated by Skone and Connors; dried beans have been donated by Cenex Bean Plant; Apples have been donated by Rowley Farms and local resident John Morley; applesauce and juice have been donated by TreeTop Selah; caramel corn has been donated by Killian Korn; turkeys have been donated by McCain’s Food Processing; and milk has been donated by Country Morning Farms.
Despite community engagement, program organizers note that donations are around $350 behind previous years. Local residents and businesses hoping to donate money or time can do so by contacting Merritt Johnson at 509-488-2471 or Ken Johnson at 509-488-5088.
Christmas Basket accounts have been set up with the U.S. Bank and the Columbia Bank in Othello. Donations should be made out to the Othello Community Christmas Basket. Food items, toys, hats, and gloves may be dropped off at the Adams County Fire hall in Othello.
A raffle has been set up to help the organization raise money for Christmas baskets, with University of Washington Huskies, Washington State University Cougars, and Seattle Seahawks themed quilts being raffled off. Tickets are $3 for one or $5 for two, and quilts can be viewed on the Othello Community Christmas Basket Fundraiser Facebook page.
Organizers also sponsor an “Only for Fun” volleyball game, with each of the schools in Othello putting up a team made up of teachers and administrators. Program organizers collect a donation of a canned food as an entry fee, but participants can simply come and watch the competition.
The Othello Christmas Basket Program purchases the hams, flour, sugar, oranges, and other canned food that are included in the baskets. The schools, church groups and other organizations collect canned and boxed foods to give to the organization to fill the baskets.