Share the Spirit begins annual fundraising for Christmas food baskets $24,000 goal set
Rebecca Hattaway Staff Reporter
(Editor’s Note: The Botts family gave the Claremore Daily Progress permission to use their names and the picture of Dylan.)
This year more than ever, many Rogers County families find themselves dreading the extra expense of the approaching holiday season.
Some are among the hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans impacted by recent cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.
Department Human Services said that 45 percent of Oklahomans on food stamps are children and working adults.
Then, there are those, like the Botts family, who are dealing with serious illness and the resulting medical expenses.
Dylan Botts is a second grader at Art Goad Elementary in Chelsea. He was first diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukemia) when he was just 3 years old, said Gloria Conaway, a school-based social worker.
“He was in remission until recently when it returned, and he’s had to go for more radiation and chemotherapy at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio,” Conaway said.
While in treatment, Dylan and his father David are staying at The Ronald McDonald House near the hospital.
The rest of the family, including Dylan’s two brothers, Floyd and Danny, are back home. That means the family will be split up during the holidays.
While there are countless needs to be met this time of year, the Share the Spirit Foundation hopes to ease some of the burden by providing the simple comfort of a Christmas meal that many take for granted.
Throughout the next few weeks, the Claremore Progress will be sharing more stories of those who have signed up to receive baskets and the challenges they are facing.
A goal of $24,000 has been set to fill boxes with turkeys and all the fixings.
“Every penny that we collect goes toward food,” said Share the Spirit President Mickey Perry. “We buy the food at Warehouse Market and distribute baskets only to Rogers County residents.”
Last year, 725 baskets were distributed.
Organizers say they expect many more to sign up this year.
“I started getting calls back in August,” said Grace Crossley with DHS.
Food basket sign-ups are being held through Dec. 6 at DHS, 2020 Holly Road in Claremore, for Claremore, Oologah and Chelsea residents. Sign-ups for Inola residents are held at the Inola Ministry House; Catoosa residents can sign up at City Hall.
Distribution day is Friday, Dec. 20. Every aspect of the Share the Spirit food basket drive relies on community support — from the canned food collections hosted by Claremore Schools and businesses around town, to the army of volunteers that fill and distribute the baskets.
Last year, the Cherokee Nation donated more than 80 turkeys, Perry said.
Of course, none of it would be possible without the generosity of Claremore Progress readers who have faithfully given each year since the program was started in 1987 by then Publisher Dave Story and Joan Dowell with DHS.
With just four weeks to raise the needed funds, each contribution is critical.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to Share the Spirit, P.O. Box 248, Claremore, OK 74018, or left at the Claremore Progress office.
Non-perishable food items are also being collected.
Donations will be acknowledged by businesses or individuals wanting to make a contribution in honor of someone or rather than giving Christmas gifts. Donor names will be listed unless anonymity is requested.
The Claremore Progress thanks you for your continued support of Share the Spirit.