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HRDC's Thanksgiving food baskets a success, Christmas baskets to come

 

Last updated 12/3/2020 at 12:45pm



Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, District 4 Human Resources Development Council reports that this year’s Thanksgiving baskets were a success, with massively increased demand that HRDC, in partnership with the Salvation Army, was able to serve.

“It went great,” Havre Community Food Bank Director Alma Garcia said. “... We definitely had a bigger outcome than last year.”

Garcia said they were able to give out 33 food baskets that people signed up for through the Salvation Army and 96 directly through HRDC.

This is far more than what they would provide in a normal year, which usually see 35 families total.

Garcia said, normally, they only serve the families who qualify based on the Salvation Army’s income standard, but with money received from the CARES Act they were able to serve more people who didn’t quite meet their partner’s requirements.

She said it was also made possible by a bigger donation from Valley Furniture in Havre, as well as many turkeys donated by community members.

Gary & Leo’s Hometown Hunger food-drive provided the side dishes for the baskets.

Garcia said that, even though they were able to serve more people than normal, she thinks the primary cause of the higher demand was increased economic stress caused by the pandemic, causing more families to be in need of assistance.

She the pandemic has affected people’s needs, disrupting the holiday.

She said one family she spoke to wanted to celebrate responsibly by keeping their three households separate, but that necessitated nearly tripling the amount of work and food they would need to hold Thanksgiving Dinner.

Garcia said she was glad HRDC was able to help the family members by giving them food baskets, and that they were able to included face masks in the baskets to try to help families that were running short.

She said this increased demand also impacted HRDC.

“It was a lot more work this year,” she said.

She said families were scheduled to start picking up the baskets Nov. 23, but with the number of people they were serving, many had to be pushed back to the next day, and a few had to pick them up the day before Thanksgiving.

The general difficulties of working during the COVID-19 pandemic made things difficult as well, she said.

HRDC staff put baskets on a table for people to pick up because they wanted to limit person to person contact as much as possible, Garcia said.

Despite the increase in demand, she said, HRDC staff worked hard to make sure everyone had something on their table even if it took longer than usual.

Garcia said this year, again in partnership with the Salvation Army, HRDC can also provide a Christmas food basket, unlike in previous years when it would be one or the other.

“Families that received a Thanksgiving box are more than welcome to come back at Christmas time,” she said.

Garcia said the Christmas baskets will function identically to the Thanksgiving, and would have similar contents.

She said she didn’t know if people would want another turkey, and encouraged people to provide feedback for what they would like for Christmas, like a roast.

She said HRDC is expecting a similarly high demand for the Christmas baskets and are making necessary preparations for that increase.

“We’re definitely planning to see more families during Christmas,” she said.

Garcia said leftover food baskets will be given to families that weren’t able to sign-up but are still in need.

“Sometimes, families will have trouble signing up and if they come in without signing up, we try to have a few boxes set aside for them,” she said.

Garcia said anyone interested in the Christmas food basket should call HRDC to sign-up.

She said HRDC also reached their goal for the annual Town Pump Foundation “Be A Friend In Deed, Help Those In Need” fundraiser of $10,000 this year, which Town Pump will match.

“That’s very awesome and will help keep the lights on, pay the bills and all that for the food bank,” she said. “We’re very happy and excited that we reached our goal.”

 
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