Dec. 15, 2021 — On Saturday, Dec. 18, Soroptimist International of Florence will be hosting its annual Community Christmas Basket Project to provide food to area families this winter. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Siuslaw Middle School, 2525 Oak St. Florence. Cars will line up on 27th Street between Kingwood and Oak streets to receive baskets of food for a holiday dinner.
“The inspiration is to help those in need,” said Soroptimist of Florence President Carol Bennett.
Soroptimist International, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, is an organization founded in Oakland, Calif., in 1921 to provide women with the option of joining a service organization. It has maintained and evolved this mission with the times, serving as a community and source of advocacy for women through the generations. Currently, Soroptimist International has approximately 30,000 members and clubs in over 120 countries, improving the lives of women on a global scale.
The local Community Christmas Basket Project began 40 years ago when a member began using her hair salon to store and charitably distribute food. Eventually, the salon was upgraded to a station wagon, which has since been upgraded to Siuslaw Middle School, the current large-scale distribution location.
The Christmas Basket Project ordinarily raises $25,000 in monetary donations, which Soroptimist of Florence uses to buy food for approximately 400 families or 2,000 people.
“Food is more expensive this year and more difficult to get,” Bennett said.
She emphasized the pertinence of the project in the wake of recent supply chain issues, COVID, and other factors that augment the challenge of obtaining food beyond its typical (very high) level of difficulty.
Community members regularly give money and other donations to help the Soroptimists. One of those groups this year was the Rotary Club of Florence.
Local Rotarians were able to raise $5,200 to purchase the turkey and chickens for this year’s Christmas Baskets.
“Our community is facing rising food costs and greater needs this year, but the Rotary Club stepped up to the task,” the club wrote in a release.
This year, the Soroptimist boxes being distributed will include either a turkey or chicken, apples, stuffing, carrots, “cuties” mandarins, butter, potatoes, dinner rolls, canned green beans, canned corn, applesauce, fruit cocktail, graham crackers, saltines, peanut butter, jam, eggs, milk and oatmeal.
Soroptimist of Florence is still collecting donations for the Community Christmas Basket Project. Money can be sent to Soroptimist International of Florence, PO Box 1209, Florence, OR 97439.
Ferris Haukom is a sophomore at Stanford Online High School who is an intern for the Siuslaw News and an associate editor at the OHS Observer. Aside from journalism, he is interested in quantum physics, programming, entrepreneurship and music, specifically violin, viola, orchestral conducting and classical composition. Haukom and his family reside in the Florence area, and he often travels as a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Composer Fellowship Program.