Holiday baskets to help those in need
By Cassie Lennox
It’s the season of giving, and Operation Bootstrap provides one more opportunity for Portage County residents to give back to community members – perhaps neighbors – in need through the Holiday Basket program.
Baskets are put together for families in need, filled with food items and gifts for the children in the family, allowing those who have fallen on hard times to still enjoy a holiday meal and make their own traditions.
“The need is great in this community, which is unfortunate to say,” said Roseann DeBot, director of operations at Operation Bootstrap. “We’re seeing a lot of people whose wages are garnished, and they have student loans or medical bills, and then they’re not being paid enough, and we’re seeing this all over the community.”
The need can hit residents and families especially hard around the holidays, when extra money is needed for gifts, food, boots and coats.
DeBot said the group expects to produce about 550 baskets this year, which is the same as last year, and she feels very hopeful about the support she has already received leading up to the program’s kick-off.
“We’ve already had people sending checks and calling to ask us about volunteering this year,” she said, “so it seems that we are going to have another supportive year.”
The program, which began in 1971, will be accepting applicants to receive baskets and volunteers to sponsor baskets until Sunday, Dec. 10. Sponsors can choose the size of the family to help, with a family of four estimated between $75 and $100. Sponsors will purchase the basket of food and, if the sponsor signs up for it, gifts for the children in the family. Suggested basket contents include food such as fruits and vegetables, meat, bread and baked goods, juice, coffee and baking ingredients.
There is also a sponsor sign-up for Hmong families, which typically are a bit larger. The cost for a Hmong family of eight is estimated at about $150, and includes food items such as beef, pork or chicken, rice, fruit and vegetables, eggs, soy and fish sauce and homemade baked goods.
Applications are due to Operation Bootstrap’s Holiday Basket Program, 5000 Heffron St., Stevens Point, by Dec. 10, though they may still be accepted until Dec. 21 if applicable.
Sponsors and recipients will be matched when applications are in, and the baskets will be put together the week of Dec. 11-15. Baskets will then be delivered Dec. 15 and 16, giving families plenty of time to prepare their food and gifts for the upcoming holidays.
“The community is so helpful with Operation Bootstrap, we really couldn’t ask for a better support system,” said DeBot. “Whatever we need, be it volunteers, or checks or donations, the community makes sure that we have it. They are wonderful.”
Operation Bootstrap started in 1969 to make sure that no person or family would fall through the cracks and that everyone receives the assistance or goods that they may need to survive in this community. In many cases, referrals are needed for program participation.
For more information, call Operation Bootstrap at 715-344-1544.