The annual Share the Spirit dinner basket program is now collecting funds to provide a meal to our neighbors in need this Christmas.
A goal of $22,000 has been set this year to purchase food from local supermarkets to be distributed only to Rogers County families.
Share the Spirit provides the simple yet powerful comfort of a traditional Christmas dinner, with each basket filled with a turkey (ham or hen for singles), stuffing mix, fresh and canned fruits and vegetables, bread and dessert.
Throughout the next few weeks, the Progress will be sharing stories of those who have signed up to receive baskets and the challenges they are facing. The names will be changed, but the circumstances are real.
Last year, 753 baskets were distributed through the program.
David, a resident of rural Rogers County, underwent quadruple bypass surgery six years ago.
This year, he has been hospitalized three different times and currently has 37 stints in his heart. He suffers from a genetic heart condition in which his arteries are constantly building up with plaque.
“If I go to the hospital, I’m in there a minimum of three days,” David said. “I’m in a situation where I’m on disability, but I don’t qualify for any benefits. I’m responsible for my own co-pays and I’m just over the poverty line to get assistance with SoonerCare.”
As a former nurse, David knows there are two ways to get medical help — money or benefits.
“I have neither,” he said. “I’m one of those in the middle who has fallen through the cracks. I know sometimes when I go to the hospital I’m not going to be able to pay my bills.”
By receiving a Christmas dinner basket, David won’t have to worry about buying food and can use that money for his medication instead.
“I don’t want to take welfare,” he said. “All my life I have volunteered for organizations that help people in these very situations — and now I’m the one who needs help. Programs like this make you feel like there is somebody out there that cares.”
While the Rogers County Department of Human Services takes applications for the baskets, applicants need not be on any form of welfare or assistance.
Many of those receiving the baskets are people like David who have come upon hard times — maybe extra medical expenses or a lay-off.
Sign-ups continue through Dec. 7 at the DHS office, 2020 Holly Road in Claremore.
With less than four weeks to raise the needed funds, each contribution is critical. Food will be distributed Friday, Dec. 21.
Again this year, non perishable items are being collected at the Progress as well as local businesses and schools.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to Share the Spirit, P.O. Box 248, Claremore, OK 74018, or left at the Progress office. All donations are used to purchase food.
There is no administrative fee. Volunteers handle packaging and distribution.
Donations will be acknowledged by businesses or individuals wanting to make a donation in honor of someone or rather than giving Christmas gifts. Donor names will be listed unless anonymity is requested.
Donations of any size are accepted. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.