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The gift that keeps on giving: Love Baskets

SCC Elementary students (from left) Katie Marx, Gavin Pabich, Brett Iverson, Thomas Lane and Josh Harvey were happy because they got to wear hats in school. Any student who took part in “Caps for Cans” and brought in food to donate to the Roberts Love Baskets program was rewarded with the privilege of wearing a cap during the school day on Nov. 15. (Photo by Sarah Young)

Every year for 20-plus years the Roberts Love Baskets program has given families in need a basket of food and a glimmer of hope during the holiday season This year is no exception.

The Roberts Lions, the Hammond Lions and the Hammond Snowdrifters snowmobile club band together each year to fill baskets with turkey or ham, potatoes, fresh and canned vegetables, pie and more, said program volunteer Doreen Kruschke.

“It’s more than just a Thanksgiving dinner,” Kruschke said.

Volunteers will pack large cardboard grocery boxes full of food at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Roberts Park Building, then deliver them to area families in need. They also pack baskets around Christmas, but Thanksgiving is usually bigger, Kruschke said.

“Maybe it’s because all the schools get involved, but the drive at Thanksgiving is bigger,” Kruschke said. “It gives the kids a chance to participate a little more.”

Kruschke said they give the schools a wish list and kids are asked to bring in food on the list. If food comes in that doesn’t go in the baskets, then it’s donated to the food shelf.

“It’s really driven by the second-graders,” Kruschke said. “They separate food for us and box it up.”

Donations of food and money pour in from area businesses, fundraising events at the schools, residents, the food shelf and fundraising done by the Lions clubs and the Snowdrifters.

“It’s really made a difference with two extra clubs helping,” Kruschke said of the Hammond Lions and Snowdrifters. “Over 40 volunteers help pack the baskets each year.”

Kruschke said some years they help more than 100 families, which are nominated through schools, residents and churches, or by asking for one themselves. So far, Kruschke has 88 families on the Thanksgiving list.

Delivering the baskets can be emotional, Kruschke said, but rewarding.

“I’ve had kids come to the door, adults come to the door, people meet me in the driveway,” Kruschke said. “Some cry, but they are all so grateful to get that food. Now we have people who received baskets in the past who are turning around and donating.”

Kruschke stressed that basket recipients must be home from 9 to 11 a.m. on Nov. 23 to receive their baskets because they cannot leave them outside.

Anyone willing to donate or volunteer to pack baskets can contact Kruschke at 715-749-3498.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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