News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 27, 2013

Tribune-Star basket fundraising begins

Goal: 500 baskets for Christmas Eve

TERRE HAUTE — Today, the Tribune-Star launches its annual Christmas Basket Fund drive to ensure that many needy residents facing tough times will be able to enjoy a plentiful Christmas meal.

This year, the goal is to raise $25,000 and deliver 500 baskets on Christmas Eve morning.

“We have a great need in our community, and we do it to help our neighbors,” said Kim Wilkerson, Tribune-Star employee who shares leadership of the program with fellow newspaper employee, Michelle Poorman.

For Tribune-Star publisher B.J. Riley, this is his fifth year participating in the Christmas Basket Fund drive.

“To help those 500 families is very humbling. The community support for this project every year is tremendous, from the monetary donations to the volunteer time to assemble and deliver the baskets,” Riley said. “The folks of the Wabash Valley are very generous, and it is great to be a part of this community.”

The Tribune-Star has conducted the fund drive for about 90 years.

The Salvation Army provides the names of families who are in need of the food baskets, and Baesler’s Market will again provide the food at cost.

The deadline has passed for people to apply for baskets, which are provided to Terre Haute residents.

The baskets will include a ham, sweet potatoes, canned goods, macaroni and cheese, fresh fruit, bread, milk and pumpkin pie. B&B Foods is donating a refrigerated truck again this year to store the baskets until the following morning when volunteers will deliver them.

Capt. Gordon Hoag of the Salvation Army said the Tribune-Star Christmas basket program “is a huge help to us to know you guys are taking care of 500 families. That’s a big load off of our shoulders.”

He characterizes the impact as “just phenomenal.” Newspaper staff, donors and volunteers “don’t want to see anybody do without on what should be the happiest time of the year,” Hoag said.

Again this year, Tribune-Star employees and their families will put together baskets on Dec. 23 to cut the cost of each basket, Wilkerson said. That assembly effort takes place at the production plant on Margaret Avenue.

Boo’s Crossroads Café will provide breakfast for the delivery volunteers on Dec. 24 at the Tribune-Star building on South Seventh Street.

Volunteers will meet at the newspaper office to be assigned a delivery route and load up with food baskets to take to designated addresses around the city. Volunteers also can pick up those delivery routes several days in advance, if they choose.

“Each year, we have so many people willing to volunteer,” Wilkerson said, “and of course, most of our volunteers come back every year to help.”

Anyone wanting to volunteer can contact Wilkerson at 812-231-4219 or Poorman at 812-231-4360.

Anyone wanting to contribute to the fundraising goal can send donations to the Tribune-Star Christmas Basket Fund at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47807.

Donations also can be dropped off during business hours at 222 S. Seventh St. in downtown Terre Haute.

The newspaper partners with the Wabash Valley Community Foundation so that donations are tax deductible. “We receive the contributions so we can give donors their charitable deduction,” said Beth Tevlin, the Foundation’s executive director.

“We’re thrilled to be part of the Tribune-Star Christmas basket drive,” Tevlin said. “It’s an annual tradition. I remember as a child reading the paper and seeing a list of those who give.”

She believes the food basket drive “is a wonderful way for people to be able to help  friends and neighbors in our community who have less than we do.”

Once again, organizers welcome donations of children’s books to be included with the baskets, when appropriate. New or gently used books can be dropped off at the Tribune-Star office during business hours.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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