Trip to the Pumpkin Patch
How do you kick off the holiday season properly? well if your Dream Center you take a lot of SDC children and their families to the pumpkin patch. And by a lot of children and parents, up to 372. How do you do that? Well you get 90 volunteers driving 372 children, parents and grandparents to Heizer Farms, where children and families enjoy train rides, hay maze, slides, rides on a fire truck, helicopter rides, watching pumpkin canons shoot pumpkins hundreds of fee though the airt, watching an mock battle between a real tank and a helicopter, and more.
Children are able to bring home any pumpkin they could carry. For most of these children, the pumpkin they chose will become food for their family.
At the end of the field trip children, parents. grandparents and volunteers return to Edgewater to enjoy lunch as community.
So why do we get excited about our annual trip to the pumpkin patch? A good question, after all most of these children get to go to the pumpkin patch with their school. How we differ is this; we take the entire family, even grandparents. For the majority of these families, this is an experience they could never afford to do. With the generous donations of our supporters we are able to provide these families with a day of family fun shared with their community.
Food Boxes for Thanksgiving
Being thankful is so important, and we are thankful for our relationships with the children and families we work with. When we began in 2004 Edgewater held a US Census Bureau ranking of a 10, being the most severe for children living in food insecurity. Even today after much improvement parents struggle to provide healthy food for their children. Each family receives a 20+ pound turkey and enough healthy food to feed a family of five for one week.
With generous donations we traditionally provide 20,000+ pounds of food during the Thanksgiving break. In one day volunteers unload food from trucks, tape up boxes, sort food into boxes, and once the boxes are created they loaded the food boxes into two large cargo trailers for delivery.
Dozens of volunteers follow the vehicles pulling the trailers throughout our community delivering food directly to the homes of hungry families.
The families who received the food boxes are families that we are in relationship with. They are active in our programs throughout the year. We know who they are, and we know who will greatly benefit from the food that we deliver. In reality, it isn’t food that we deliver to these families, it’s hope.
For many of these families feeding their children is a painful challenge, and that challenge increases when school is out and the children are not receiving breakfast and lunch. Too often we take food into homes, place it in kitchens that have little to no food in the cupboards or refrigerator. To those of you who make donations to create food boxes, thank you, you made a difference in lives.
If you would like to see what Food Box Blessings is, check out our Food Box Blessings video at Video’s from the Edge
Food Boxes for Christmas
In December we hold our annual Food for Christmas event. Much of the same information listed above regarding food for Thanksgiving is true here, with these exceptions.
For Christmas we receive donations from Marion Polk Food Share, Perrydale 4H and Food4Life which allow us to deliver 35,000+ pounds of food. The food delivered will included a 25 pound roast and enough healthy food to feed a family of five for two weeks.
Please understand that we support children and families who are active in Salem Dream Center programs throughout the year. We wish we could help every child and family in need, but that isn’t our model. We are about relationships and working with families to help them break free of generational poverty. We are not a charity model, we are about relationships.
If you would like to see what Food Box Blessings looks like, check out our Food Box Blessings video at Video’s from The Edge
With the help of Life Church, Red Robin, West Salem ACE Hardware, Urban Grange Coffee, West Salem Les Schwab Tire Centers, Connection Life Church, Applebee’s, Copper Creek Mercantile and many other business’ in Salem and Keizer we were able to provide more than, 1,700 Christmas gifts to children in our community
Each of those supporters put up Dream Tree’s. Each Dream Tree was covered with ornaments that contained the exact Christmas wishes of children who had been interviewed in the homes or at Dream Center.
In addition organizations like West Salem Rotary, and companies like Doneth Wealth adopt entire families and provide all the gifts the children requested. If your company or office would like to adopt a family, or families, please let us know and we will get you all the information
Children interviewed for Dream Tree are children who are active in our programs throughout the year. We are in relationship with them, and with their families.
Santa’s Work Shop
On the last Friday in December before Christmas hundreds volunteers come together to wrap all of the Dream Tree gifts, and decorate thousands Christmas cookies for Operation Sneaky Elf.
The obvios question is how long does that take. Well this may surprise you; it only take about two hours to decorate all the cookies and wrap all the gifts.
But before the gifts are wrapped and the cookies decorated, we all enjoyed dinner together as Christmas music plays and a Christmas movie plays.
After the gifts are wrapped we all enjoy holiday desserts and marvel at everything we accomplished.
Dream Tree Delivery
On the Saturday before Christmas dozens of volunteers converged on to Edgewater to delivery the Dream Tree gifts to the homes of children. This is a day everyone looks forward to. You see for more than 95% of the children, these Christmas gifts are the only gifts they will receive at Christmas. Giving them exactly what they dreamt of is such a wonderful feeling and the volunteers are often overwhelmed by the experience.
Operation Sneaky Elf
Operation Sneaky Elf is a favorite holiday event for so many people. For nine years Sneaky Elves have converged on the Edgewater District at 3:30AM Christmas morning, going door to door placing a gift bag filled with a dozen Christmas cookies on doorknobs.
On an average 60 Sneaky Elves creep though the dark streets as everyone in the community sleep, and in one hour up to 1,400 bags of cookies are carefully placed on doorknobs. Each bags also includes a Christmas wish: “Merry Christmas, you are loved”
For those of you who like math, that is 16,800 cookies!
Thank you to everyone who baked cookies and candies, everyone who decorated cookies and everyone who bagged them up and came out on Christmas morning to delivery them.
We would love to have you become a Sneaky Elf, and or one of the bakers who supply the cookies.
Check out this years Holiday Schedule