Photo by Joe Boyle
Volunteers place canned goods in a box in preparation for the annual Christmas Baskets event held Sunday at the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post in Worth.
Beth Lode likes to refer to the annual Christmas Baskets event in Worth as a well-oiled machine.
Lode, one of the co-chairs for the Holiday Basket Committee for the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Auxiliary at 11001 S. Depot Ave.in Worth, has been through this drill before. The event was held Sunday morning at the post, and Lode said she is appreciative of the volunteers who have helped distribute the food and toys to families in need.
Those families live in Worth, Lode points out. She applauds the efforts of so many people who want to help out to make residents who are having a difficult time have some holiday cheer.
“This dates back to the 1940s,” said Lode, who is assisted by co-chair Mary Frestel. “We have been doing this all these years and I have been out here for 46 years. We get a lot of support. We even have one family who came here from Warrenville to help out.”
Lode said it is due to the fact that this has been an annual event dating back to the end of World War II that the Christmas Baskets event is done so well. The job is a labor of love for Lode and the auxiliary, post members and other volunteers. But she adds that the need is great.
She anticipated that over 70 families, including over 145 children, will need help. On Sunday morning, Lode could be found inside the post asking children, teens and adult volunteers to pack boxes and bags with canned goods and produce. She was also helping pass out numbers to volunteers who would place them on the packages and to the drivers who would pull up in their vehicles to pick up the packages assigned for specific residents.
The drivers pull away with the goods to deliver. They are then replaced by other drivers who go through the same process. The vehicles began to line up at about 9 a.m. and left promptly to deliver food, household items and toys to different families in Worth.
“We have so many great volunteers,” said Lode. “We have so many people who help out.”
Well over 100 volunteers helped out despite the temperatures that were near zero degrees. Lode said that conditions have been worse.
“I remember about four years ago we had a blizzard and a lot of snow,” recalled Lode. “The power went out in everybody’s home. But everyone still showed up. It was heart- warming.”
Worth Mayor Mary Werner assisted at the Christmas Baskets event. She helped bring boxes of food out and assisted in organizing rows of items that were numbered for the drivers. She checked over a list with volunteers who were placing bags and boxes in specific rows or in waiting vehicles.
“Everyone comes out and helps,” said a bundled up Werner. The mayor pointed to the “Tons of Food Drive” held last month by local scout groups provided a lot of goods for the cause.
She added that volunteers go out at 8 a.m. to bring milk, bread and paper towels from the nearby Fairplay gocery store. The mayor said this truly a team effort.
“This is so well organized,” said Werner. “I want to thank many of the volunteers who are from our fire and police departments. And we have certain homes that get toys. We have them all listed here. The Worth Lions Club also does a great job of providing goods.”
Lode said that the cub scouts helped stack food on Saturday in preparation of the Christmas Baskets event. She said with the assistance they get, families in need also receive sweatshirts, gloves and hats for the children, along with a grocery gift certificate for seniors .
“We prepare for this for months,” said Lode. “The items come in and we list them and store a lot of them ahead of time.”
The auxiliary also hosts a Thanksgiving Baskets event. Volunteers help sort out donated pantry items and set up the dry and canned goods at the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Hall.
“We receive a lot of help,” said Lode. “This is really a community effort.”