Gaby Walters (with scissors) and Tristan Maschino were busy wrapping gifts for the Crothersville FFA Toy & Food distribution this past Saturday.
For a quarter of a century the Crothersville FFA has seen to it that some of the Crothersville area’s underprivileged have a happier holiday season.
“The first toy drive was in December 1988 and we delivered used toys to 20 families,” said Linda Maxie, the local FFA advisor who organized that first holiday drive.
Maxie chuckled as she recalled that first toy drive in 1988.
“I was new to the area and we distributed the toys after school,” she said. “I did all the driving and didn’t know my way around town and out in the country and it was well after dark before we got all of the deliveries done.”
The next year she enlisted the local fire department to help with distribution. “They knew the community, had a big red truck which everyone knew, and the fire chief said it was good training for firemen to get acquainted with addresses in the township,” said Maxie.
The firefighters are a big help in getting the kids safely to the right address with adult supervision, Maxie said.
She said that second year food was added to the drive but it was just canned goods donated by Crothersville school students.
The annual holiday event has grown more than just a bit under Maxie’s guidance. This past Saturday 5.85 tons of food were delivered to 96 families in Crothersville and Vernon Township.
Today the distribution is more than just donated canned goods as the FFA holds fundraisers just for the toy and food drive. “We’ve been successful to get area businesses, industry and churches to join with us. It has truly become a community event. Not just an event we do in the community,” she said. “A lot of the food is donated and we use money from our projects and donated by the public to fill the gaps so families have some wholesome food over the holidays.
Holiday fruit baskets were added to the mix several years ago.
“Sometimes in the bustle to make sure some youngsters have a Merry Christmas, our area seniors and homebound might get left out,” said Maxie.
On Saturday in conjunction with the toy and food distribution, cheer baskets of fresh fruit were delivered to 165 individuals.
“Maybe they lost a spouse or loved one this past year, maybe they’ve had some health problems, maybe they live alone,” said Maxie. “The cheer baskets are a way to let them know they live in a caring community.”
Saturday’s distribution, even in the rain, took about four hours to complete.
“Less time than that first distribution to just 20 families in 1988,” smiled Maxie.
Louis Meier (left) and Drew Holms prepared some of the 165 fruit baskets which were delivered to area seniors and shut-ins on Saturday.