Nov. 24—In 1928, the combined staffs of the Terre Haute Tribune and the Terre Haute Star inaugurated the Christmas Basket. It has become an annual tradition, and again on this Christmas Eve, the Tribune-Star, its partners and volunteers will deliver 650 food baskets to families experiencing food insecurity.
To achieve that number of baskets, the newspaper aims to raise $26,000 for its annual Christmas Basket Fund drive, which commences today. Donors' names and the amount of their gift will be published daily on the front page of the newspaper unless anonymity is requested.
"I volunteer to help with the Christmas Basket each year because I enjoy doing things to help others," said Kim Wilkerson of the Tribune-Star's business office, one of the fund drive's main organizers. "It's a great feeling and I think it makes you more appreciative of the things you have."
"The people of Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley have been good to the Tribune-Star through the years, and this is the Tribune-Star's opportunity to return that support by making Christmas brighter for those in our communities that need it most," said Max Jones, the newspaper's editor.
He added, "Our employees, donors and partners look forward to this fundraising and food distribution effort every year. It's our way of bringing a little more joy to the world."
The food baskets distributed the morning of Christmas Eve will include ham, sweet potatoes, canned goods, macaroni and cheese, fresh fruit, bread, milk and pumpkin pie.
Baesler's Market provides food for the baskets at cost, while B&B Foods provides a refrigerated truck to store the baskets. The Salvation Army provides the Tribune-Star with a list of families in need.
The Air National Guard will be putting together the baskets and unloading them for delivery. Volunteers will distribute the baskets on the morning of Dec. 24.
"For several years, members of the 181st Intelligence Wing have volunteered to distribute food baskets during the Trib-Star Christmas Basket Fund on Christmas Eve," said Master Sergeant Joe Pearison. "This year, we were allowed to expand our volunteer role to help with the logistics operations for the food baskets. As a result, 181st members will prep the food baskets before the delivery on Christmas Eve.
"The 181st Intelligence Wing is dedicated to supporting the community; it is a key mission for the 181st as part of the Air National Guard," Pearison added. "Our members and their families live and work in the local community."
"Each year, we have so many people willing to volunteer and, of course, most of our volunteers come back every year to help," Wilkerson said. Volunteers can contact her at 812-231-4219.
Contributions can be sent to the Tribune-Star, attention Christmas Basket Fund, P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47808. Cash or check donations can be dropped off at the newspaper office (2800 Poplar St., Suite 37A) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Online donations can be made at wvcf.org/tribstarchristmasbasket. The Wabash Valley Community Foundation administers the donated funds; contributions are tax deductible.
The Christmas Basket drive also seeks gently used books, especially those suitable for children.
David Kronke can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at email@example.com.