The Elks Christmas Basket program will again bring the warmth of the community into the homes of dozens of less fortunate individuals and families with holiday turkeys, chickens, foodstuffs and presents. Literally hundreds of members of the community help out with the annual program which will deliver holiday presents to a record number of 160 families on Monday, Dec. 23.
The benevolent program has been in existence nearly fifty years and is of a two prong nature. One aspect of the agenda is coordinated under the wing of Barb Harvey and deals with the presents portion of the program. Citizens take ornaments off of the Tree of Giving this year located in the building between the Enterprise Flower Shop and the Cloud 9 Bakery. The ornaments have the name and age of an individual to bring a gift for. Those name and age tags are returned with a present which is unwrapped and inspected to make certain the gift is appropriate for the Christmas gift recipient. After the gift is inspected it is re-wrapped and added to the appropriate family's Christmas basket.
The other half of the program deals with the food and is annually coordinated with the help of Chuck Haines. The Elks Lodge B.P.O.E. 1829 and contributions from the community pay for the food items.
In addition to families with children up to 17 years of age, the turkeys, chickens, miscellaneous food and presents are shared with households with single adults, the Wallowa Valley Care Center, Alpine House Assisted Living, Pioneer Guest Home, adult foster homes and children in foster care. Many basket recipient family names are provided by the Oregon State Department of Human Resources, while others may be called in to either Harvey or Haines.