The spirit of giving

The spirit of giving is alive in well in Lovell and the surrounding areas, according to Bob Mangus, who helped coordinate this year’s effort to collect and distribute food for 186 families in need in the Lovell, Byron, Cowley, Deaver and Frannie areas. Mangus and fellow firefighters create and distribute baskets of food every year containing non-perishables including canned and dry goods contributed through food drives at local schools and other organizations in the community. Additionally, the firemen raise cash through special fundraisers to purchase perishable items that go into the baskets. Each basket contains about a week’s worth of food for a family. The program has been in existence for more than 20 years.

Jim Minchow helps student Brenden Lundberg load up non-perishable items collected by the students at Lovell Elementary School for the firemens’ food baskets, while students Natalia Jolley and Trecelle Jolley wait for their turn to load items.

“If it wasn’t for all those who help us raise money and collect food we couldn’t do this,” said Mangus.

The Lovell Sugar Cooperative donated 180 bags of locally grown and processed sugar this year. American Colloid and the local rod and gun club contributed 23 turkeys. Individuals donated 27 cases of fresh oranges. The ABATE program donated $425 worth of Wal-Mart credit cards that were used to purchase special treats like candy canes and chocolate covered cherries. Numerous cash donations were given by individuals, and local businesses purchased perishable items like hams, eggs, bread, potatoes and butter.

Firefighters and other volunteers assembled the baskets on Monday and delivered them early in the week. The Byron Lions’ club helped distribute the baskets in Byron. The Deaver/Frannie Fire District volunteers helped deliver baskets in their area. Lovell firefighters and volunteers distributed baskets in the Lovell and Cowley areas.

“For a lot of people, this is all the Christmas they will get,” said Mangus.

According to Mangus, residents and churches provide the firefighters with the names of those who would appreciate this act of kindness during the holiday season and some recipients call themselves to get on the list.

“In some cases, people with low incomes like the elderly, will receive a basket pretty much every year,” explained Mangus. “In other cases, people are on hard times temporarily like who have lost their job or those who have a lot of medical bills. Those individuals might only get the basket during those hard times.”

Mangus cited cases where people who have received baskets in previous years due to hard times now donate food or money to the effort.

The first graders at Lovell Elementary School collected the most non-perishable items this year bringing in a total of 2,788 alone.

Rocky Mountain Elementary school held a themed food drive including a breakfast day, cookie day, favorite food day, a non-food day and a least favorite food day. Holding the special themed days brought in a wide variety of items.

“We couldn’t do this without the help of all the schools in the area,” said Mangus. “We just wouldn’t have enough non-perishable items to fill the baskets.”

By Patti Carpenter