Sorting through the donated canned goods.

Sorting through some of the several hundreds cans of donated food. (Ernie Over photo) 

(Riverton, Wyo.) – It was shortly after 8 a.m. this morning when the deliveries started, bringing Christmas cheer to Riverton area residents in need. The Riverton Elks Lodge spent Monday evening assembling 150 Christmas food boxes from literally  hundreds of donations they had received for this annual goodwill project.

Tom Hernandez, who coordinated the effort this year, said they had come up a bit short with turkeys, and the word got out. “I got a call from a family here in town who heard that we were short. They asked how many we needed, I said 40, and they said they would bring that many over for us. And they did. It was incredible generosity,” he said.

UnknownIt was like that in the weeks leading up to the food box assembly night. The Elks’ storeroom was filled with cases and cases of food, and the donation box, the size that one would see watermelons or pumpkins in at grocery stores, was filled to the brim with donated food stuffs.

There were the usual donations, canned corn and green beans, boxed macaroni and cheese, potatoes. But there were also some unusual donations. “Hey look at this,” one Elks volunteer called out, holding up a small bottle of alum. “You use this in pickling,” she said. Someone else donated a five pound sack of flour. And there were a large variety of canned condensed and ready to eat soups, canned fruit of all kinds, tons-o-beans, tuna fish, corned beef, canned spaghetti and ravioli, cereals, tea and coffee, olives and more. Much more.

The assembly line for the boxes took up the entire meeting room of the lodge and, one by one, the food items were placed in the boxes after all the donations had been sorted and stacked. Volunteers used rolling carts for the canned goods. Other individuals grabbed five pound sacks of spuds and placed one in each box. And that’s they way it went until all 150 boxes were filled. Each comes with a loaf of bread and a frozen turkey.

“One young mother showed up at our front door with a frozen turkey and some canned food,” Hernandez said. “It brought tears to my eyes when she said her child had taken some of his Christmas money to buy the items so other kids would have a nice Christmas dinner.”

The spirit of the season, indeed.

Photos by Ernie Over, click to enlarge