Holiday Recap

8th Annual Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

On October 26th we held our annual trip to the pumpkin patch surpassed our expectations with 89 volunteers driving 372 children, parents and grandparents to to Heizer Farms where children and families enjoyed train rides, hay maze, slides, rides on a fire truck, helicopter rides, watching pumpkin canons shoot pumpkins thousands of feet, watching an mock battle between a real tank and a helicopter.

Children were able to bring home any pumpkin they could carry. For most of these children, the pumpkin they chose will become food for their family.

When the caravan of 50+ cars and vans returned to Edgewater the children, parents, grandparents were greeted by our partner group who prepared hot dogs, nachos, chips and bottled water for lunch.

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

On November 25th, the week of Thanksgiving 84 volunteers met at West Salem Church to create food boxes for families in our community, 3.4 tons of food in all. Each family received a 20+ pound turkey and enough healthy food to feed a family of five for one week.

With generous donations we were able to exceed last years success and feed more people than in past years. Volunteer spent the day unloading trucks, taping up boxes, sorting food into boxes and once the boxes were created they loaded the food boxes into two large cargo trailers.

About 25 volunteers followed 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; and who we know will greatly benefit from the food that we deliver. In really 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 made donations to create food boxes, thank you, you made a difference in lives.

Food Boxes for Christmas

On December 17th we held our annual Food for Christmas event at Salem Vineyard Church. Much of the same information listed above regarding food for Thanksgiving is true here, with these exceptions.

With generous donations from Polk County, Marion Polk Food Share, Perrydale 4H and Food4Life we were able to provide families with 200 pounds of healthy food for the Christmas holiday. The food delivered included a 15 pound ham and enough food to feed a family of five for two weeks.

We were blessed to have volunteers from Salem Vineyard, Cherry City Ekkesia, Salem Alliance join us as we created and delivered food to a record number of families.

Dream Tree

With the help of WSFC, Red Robin, West Salem US Bank, Urban Grange Coffee, West Salem Les Schwab Tire Centers and Pamper Me Spa in Keizer we were able to provide more that 2,300 gifts to children.

Each of the above locations 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. This was a record year with more children being blessed then in any past years.

Santa’s Work Shop

On Friday December 20th more than 300 volunteers wrapped all of the Dream Tree gifts and decorated 3,200 Christmas cookies.

The obvios question is how long did that take. Well this may surprise you; it took one hour to decorate the cookies and two hours to wrap all the gifts.

Once the gifts were wrapped and the cookies decorated, we all enjoyed dinner together as some talked, some watched a Christmas movie and other simply marveled in how much fun a seemingly impossible task had been accomplished in such a short period of time.

Thank you to each location that put up a Dream Tree. Thank you to each person who adopted a child from a Dream Tree and thank you to all of the volunteers who wrapped gifts and decorated cookies.

Dream Tree Delivery

Saturday December 21st 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 and candies on doorknobs.

This year 49 Sneaky Elves crept though the dark streets as everyone in the community slept, and in one hour 863 bags of cookies and candies had been carefully placed on doorknobs.

For those of you who like math, that is 10,256 cookies and candies. 3,200 of which were created during Santa’s workshop, 7,056 which were homemade cookies and candies provided by bakers throughout Salem and Keizer. 863 bags in one hour, or 14.1 bags per minute. See Santa isn’t the only one who can accomplish the impossible in one night.

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.