No one goes without a Christmas in Lincoln City, says North Lincoln Fire and Rescue (NLFR) and The Eagle Lodge.
The annual Christmas Basket Food and Toy Drive is here once again and the large plastic barrels have been placed at businesses around Lincoln City to collect donated new, unwrapped toys and nonperishable food items to fill the Christmas baskets.
“This has been going on longer than anyone can remember,” NLFR’s Marc McPherson said. “It’s our tradition to provide food and toys to people that need some help this time of year. Whether it’s because of the economy, health, a special circumstance… we just want to make sure that every family that needs assistance gets it.”
Each year, NLFR and the Eagles help between 1,200 and 1,500 people, according to McPherson. They try to provide at least a week’s worth of food for families, which includes a full Christmas dinner with turkey and all the fixings.
Toys are collected by the fire department and are taken to the St. Peter’s Church where the Eagles do their magic.
“They could Santa Claus’ elves to shame,” McPherson joked. “They sort all the toys, take all the applications to fit the needs of what each child wants, wrap each and every toy and put them in big bags. They take the food and box it up for each household. It’s a very arduous task.”
McPherson also noted that many of the gift wrappers are community volunteers. The Eagles are always welcoming volunteers and accepting donations for wrapping paper, ribbons and whatever else is needed for this holiday event.
Both NLFR and the Eagles accept applications for the program through Dec. 7.
Once all gifts are accounted for the crews set out to buy any items that are left of the kid’s wish lists.
“If there is anything special that maybe we didn’t receive, we’ll go out and buy toys to make sure each an every child gets at least one toy that they specifically asked for,” McPherson said.
Then comes the fun part, distributing the gifts.
“We show up at a family’s home that without our assistance, may have little to not Christmas,” McPherson said. “To see the smiles on the children’s faces and the relief on the parents faces, knowing they don’t have to explain why Santa wasn’t able to get them exactly what they wanted this year… it’s a sight to behold.”
For McPherson, he has been deeply involved with the food and toy drive every year since joining the NLFR crew because he sees just how simply the community can make a difference in a family’s life.
“People go through really hard times,” he said. “I’ve been involved every year that I’ve been with the Fire Department and even when I leave I’ll still be involved.”
To make a donation to the food and toy drive or to apply, community members can stop by Eagles Lodge #2576 at 737 SW 32nd St. after 3 p.m. or at the NLFR station at 4520 SE Hwy 101, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Due to construction, applications and donations will not be available at NLFR station located at 2525 NW Hwy 101.
You must live within the Fire District to qualify. Donations can also made at the various locations throughout town.
The Community Center
Samaritan Building B
Samaritan Urgent Care 101
Lincoln City Cultural Center
Lincoln City Outlets
North Lincoln Sanitary
Bank of the West
“For those people buying the toys, they have to be the most generous people in the world,” McPherson said. “They go out, take their time, spend their hard earned money, buy a toy for a child they don’t know and they don’t get to see the joy of the child when they open the gift… they get nothing in return.
“That to me is generosity in the purest form. That’s the true spirit of Christmas.”