A treasure trove of Christmas cheer and good will…

A treasure trove of Christmas cheer and good will…

Lake Orion Lions Club ensures Happy Holiday’s for all with Christmas baskets

By Jim Newell

Review Editor

Sorting toys and food, packing boxes and bags with the holiday goodies and essentials, then loading them up on the sleighs (aka, automobiles) and delivering the gifts to area families – kind of sounds like Santa’s elves hard-at-work.

In actuality it’s the Lake Orion Lions Club, which held their annual Christmas Basket pack on Friday at the CERC Building before delivering the baskets on Saturday.

The beneficiaries of this year’s “nice” list are Orion area families and senior citizens who need a little assistance this Christmas season.

“We’re at 186 families right now. We bring a load of groceries, roughly a week or two worth of food and we also deliver kids’ gifts,” said Dave Tucker, chair of the Christmas Basket program. “We communicate with other service organizations, like Shop with a Hero, Angel Fish, the American Legion and compare lists to make sure that we’re not redundant with the gift giving, and to make sure that nobody falls through the cracks.”

The club also helps out low-income senior citizens who need a little extra support, and this year they’re aiding 65 seniors, who will receive food and toiletries.

This year’s numbers are on par with most years, which usually falls in the 160-200 range of families who benefit from the Lions Club Christmas basket program, Tucker said.

The Lions Club gets referrals, mostly from the schools, but also from area churches and groups who identify people in need. The Lions then assess the families’ needs, collect food, toys, hats and gloves, toiletries and other essentials through donations.

Families receive everything from canned and boxed goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs and meat – enough food for a week or two. Kids receive age-appropriate toys, hats and gloves.

Lion Pam Kline, who has helped at the Christmas Basket pack for more than 20 years, ran the “toy store,” keeping the toys sorted by gender and age and distributing the toys to the shoppers.

Kline said there were t-shirts, hoodies and hats donated this year, so the kids will get a little more in addition to toys. In all, the Lions and volunteers got toys for 296 kids.

The Target store on Brown Road in Auburn Hills donated $300 in gift cards and two, $250 gift cards to specifically shop for two families, Kline said. “There help was over-the-top.”

Scott Wright agreed with Kline, saying that when he joined those who went shopping for the gifts they were in and out of Target in 35 minutes, thanks to the employees’ help.

And while the Lions Club members organize and work at the pack, it’s people from throughout the community volunteering to help pack the Christmas baskets and deliver the boxes to families on Saturday that helps ensure that things get done in time.

“People look forward to this. It’s a lot of work but it’s a cool thing. It helps the community,” Tucker said. “People just kind of jump in.”

And what about the mountains of potatoes, columns and canned and dried food, mounds of beans and rice? Where does the food come from? A lot of it comes from Lake Orion school students and staff.

“The schools help us two ways: they do food drives, so what you see here is donated food through the schools. The schools also are the source for 90 percent of the families (who receive Christmas baskets),” Tucker said. “They also give us donations.”

Carpenter Elementary students donated more than $400. “It was like funny hat day or something,” Tucker said. “Orion Oaks faculty and PTO passed the hat and I think there’s $700 there.”

The Lions also place orders with Meijer and Kroger and shop for fresh foods, like potatoes, milk, eggs and meat the day of the pack.

For more on the Lake Orion Lions Club, visit lakeorionlions.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.