By Jean Schurman
About 385 families from Victor to Florence ate a complete Christmas dinner courtesy of Pantry Partners and their volunteer elves. The crew at Pantry Partners, along with volunteers from the Back Country Horsemen and Key Club members from Stevensville and Florence schools, came to the St. Mary’s Family Center on Thursday to assemble the boxes of food for these families.
Each box contained a bag of potatoes, a turkey, celery, carrots, stuffing, broth, jello, fruit cocktail, canned vegetables, cake mix, frosting, and a treat. Boxes ranged in size from one that would feed a family of four to a box that would feed more than nine. This year there were more requests for the larger baskets and some of the crew at the Pantry thinks it is because there are multiple generations living together these days. The 385 boxes will feed more than 1200 people.
Lee Scharff of Stevensville and of the Back Country Horsemen is the ramrod of the crew for the distribution. The food items were methodically lined up on one side of the Family Center with boxes on another, tables for the finished boxes and frozen turkeys at the other end of the room. With Scharff barking orders, the crews set the boxes and then more team members streamed past, putting the dry and canned items in the box. Once these boxes were filled, they were moved to their final spot where a couple of Key Club members added the celery and carrots. Cleo Guenther, director at Pantry Partners, then added the treats and the box was ready to go.
The assembly of the boxes took place from 8:30 to 10:30. By 9:30, people were already lining up to receive their boxes. They had signed up at the food bank earlier in the month with the number of people they would be feeding.
Once the doors opened, the crew who had been filling the boxes then went to work carrying the boxes up to the reception area along with the turkeys. When needed, they even carried the box to the client’s car.
Melody Maki, a Key Club member from Florence Carlton High School, said helping do this was very humbling and she was impressed by the efforts of everyone.
Kathy Belke, president of Pantry Partners, wanted to thank the communities for their efforts in helping Pantry Partners with the Christmas food box distribution.