What started as a secret Santa project some 12 years ago has become an annual opportunity for the 714 members of the Clarion (Army, Navy, Air Force Unit 302) to demonstrate their Christmas spirit by helping those less fortunate than themselves.
On December 7 the ANAF will once again be hosting a fundraising event aimed at supporting the Sidney Lions Food Bank.
“We get a lot of support from the community,” said Randy Evans, ANAF Executive Member. “Local businesses contribute toward a big silent auction that we hold at the event and we have some other draws and even a pool tournament…and all the money goes to the food bank,”
In fact, there is no overhead for the ANFC and all the money, including the $10 admission charge, is destined to support the purchase of food for the disadvantaged in Sidney.
And make no mistake about it; there is a serious need for help.
“We provide food to 1,200 people a month,” said Beverly Elder, the Lions Food Bank Administrator. “It’s great that people rally around this time of year…it can be so hard on people who don’t have any other way of making Christmas a happy time.”
Elder said that the bulk of the food bank’s clients are ‘working poor’, but that, increasingly, she is seeing senior citizens whose fixed incomes haven’t been able to keep pace with a rising cost of living.
For Evans and his group, it’s all about giving at a time of year that too often focuses on the commercial aspects of the season. “I find that the people of Sidney are very generous and really do keep the spirit of the Christmas the way it should be kept,” he said.
Last year the event raised $4,000 for the food bank but Evans is confident that they can do even better this year.
“This will make a big difference,” said Elder. “For every dollar we receive we manage to leverage it into two dollars worth of food, so getting a cash donation like this is huge.”
The fund raising event is open to the general public and runs from 11 am to 6 pm on December 7.
“We’re also asking that people bring along a non-perishable food item to drop in our bin,” said Evans. “Or, if they prefer, they can bring a new unwrapped toy. We’ll make sure that those toys get a good home come Christmas.”
— Tim Collins/News Contributor