OKANOGAN – Donations are being sought for the annual Omak-Okanogan Community Christmas Basket Project, which provides food during the holidays for mid-valley residents in need.
“We are doing the Christmas baskets a week earlier this year due to scheduling conflicts at the Agriplex,” where baskets are assembled, said co-organizer Constanza Smith.
The project is co-organized by the Omak Junior Civic League and Omak Kiwanis Club.
Volunteers will accept donations from 3:15-7 p.m. Dec. 10-14 at the Okanogan County Fairgrounds Agriplex, 175 Rodeo Trail. Bulk food will be assembled into baskets those days.
Baskets will distributed at 8 a.m. Dec. 15. Those wanting a basket must provide proof of residence by showing a utility receipt.
Last year more than 300 families and individuals were served. Organizers say this year’s goal is at least 280 baskets, which include food for Christmas and staples for a week.
“A food basket will assure some Christmas relief for those families with greater need,” said the groups.
Okanogan and Omak school districts’ students are helping with the food drive.
In Okanogan, high school and middle school students are conducting a coin drive through Dec. 7.
Each grade level will earn spirit points based on a per-student average collected. A prize will be given to the grade with the highest average.
The annual Polar Plunge, planned in January, culminates the drive. Depending on the amount collected, students, staff, administrators and community/celebrity volunteers will jump into icy cold water.
Omak High School students will have a food drive through Dec. 7.
Classes will compete to collect the most food and the results apply to the school’s “class of the year” competition. A bonus item is set for each day, resulting in double points for the class.
Monetary donations also will be accepted, school officials said.
Food drive organizers said suggested contents of a basket include vegetables (canned, preferably corn and beans), potatoes, stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, dessert mix, rice, beans, cereal, jelly, peanut butter, syrup, pancake mix, oil, tuna, main dish mixes, powdered milk, flour, noodles, soup, fruit, juice, brown sugar and a meat certificate.
Suggested meat certificate amounts are $10 for a small basket and $12-$15 for a medium basket. Donors are asked not to put certificates in the same box as food donations. Donor forms are available.
Monetary donations may be made directly to the Community Christmas Basket account at Wells Fargo Bank, 21 W. First Ave.