A two-hour school delay and single-digit temperatures would not deter the students, faculty, and volunteers of Elder High School from delivering food and gifts to needy families during the school’s Annual Christmas Food and Toy Drive on December 15th.
The Elder Family was in full force as moms, dads, faculty members, graduates, and friends came together to wrap gifts all morning so that the deliveries could be made as scheduled. In fact, about 200 students and faculty members volunteered their time after school to prepare and deliver the food baskets and bags of new toys directly to families’ front doors around the city.
The drive originated in the mid-1970s as a food-only drive serving about 25 families, and it has grown to serve over 260 families today. Toys were added to the drive in the early-1980s. “We think it makes a big difference to wrap these gifts,” said Pete Witte, a 1986 graduate of Elder and one of the event coordinators. “It’s fun for a kid to actually open a gift and not just be given a present of an unwrapped toy. The fact that it’s wrapped makes this toy drive a little different than a lot of other toy drives.”
We were LIVE on Facebook during the gift-wrapping
Event coordinators, including Witte, his wife Ann, and Elder’s campus minister Roger Auer, work with local schools, churches, and other agencies to identify families in need within the Price Hill community and beyond. Those organizations include Santa Maria Community Services, the Contact Center, Holy Family, Resurrection, and Community Matters based out of Lower Price Hill.
But the drive would not be possible without the tireless help of so many volunteers and the generosity of others within the Elder Family. JTM Food Group donates products to be included in the boxes of food. The boxes themselves are donated by Elder grads Joe Sabato, Tom Brunst, Ron Dreyer, and Scott Wegman. Students, faculty members, grads and friends make monetary donations. And people like Mary Keilholz and Jim and Vicki Eckstein spend countless hours purchasing new toys throughout the months leading up to the delivery date. In addition, hams are donated by Butch and Karen Hubert and turkeys are donated by school families and friends of Elder, making it possible to for needy families to have a filling Christmas dinner.
Donate to next year's Food & Toy Drive by purchasing this commemorative mug
Added Witte, “This represents what Elder is about. It is giving back to the community. It is creating grads that understand that giving back is about as important of a thing you can do in life.”
Click here to view more pictures of this event