Local organizations rally to provide Christmas meals for families

The annual Christmas Food Box Program provides traditional meal staples to families in need for the holidays

BATTLE GROUND — In what has become an annual event for the north Clark County region, the Christmas Food Box Program is scheduled to distribute donations to families in need on Sat., Dec. 16 at the Battle Ground Community Center.

The event is coordinated by John Idsinga, president of the North County Community Food Bank in Battle Ground, and brings together various private donors, business groups, civic and social organizations and churches, to donate and distribute food boxes with Christmas staples for the holidays.

Volunteers will gather in the Battle Ground Community Center on Dec. 12 and 13 to pack food boxes for distribution in the annual Christmas Food Box Program. Photo courtesy of North County Community Food Bank
Volunteers will gather in the Battle Ground Community Center on Dec. 12 and 13 to pack food boxes for distribution in the annual Christmas Food Box Program. Photo courtesy of North County Community Food Bank

Elizabeth Cerveny, executive director of the North County Community Food Bank, said that the event was founded by community members that wanted “to rally around and help those in need around Christmas time and provide them with the basics for a Christmas meal.”

Throughout November, families registered for the program at the food bank. For those that have children under 12, they were asked to provide the name, age, gender, sizes and interests for organizations that were donating toys to be distributed to families.

Community organizations then work with the food bank after the registrations are received to adopt some of the families and identify the demographic they want to work with as well as what they will help provide.

For example, Cerveny said that some organizations focus on senior citizens, and others may choose to engage with single parent households. However, by engaging with numerous local groups and organizations, Cerveny said that “everybody can find someone that they can connect to.”

Once both the organizations submit their aims and the recipients have registered, Cerveny said that those registered are matched to different organizations. For example, while the main distribution of Christmas food boxes will take place in Battle Ground, some churches that have participated may have their own distribution times and locations.

The Christmas Food Box Program is funded entirely by outside donations and does not draw from the funds used by the North County Community Food Bank, Cerveny said.

Food donations that go toward the program are assembled in the Battle Ground Community Center the week of Dec. 11, and the boxes are prepared on Dec. 12 and 13.

The Christmas Food Box Program, which helps provide families with items to make a Christmas meal, “touches so many in the community,” according to Elizabeth Cerveny, executive director of Battle Ground’s North County Community Food Bank. Photo courtesy of North County Community Food Bank
The Christmas Food Box Program, which helps provide families with items to make a Christmas meal, “touches so many in the community,” according to Elizabeth Cerveny, executive director of Battle Ground’s North County Community Food Bank. Photo courtesy of North County Community Food Bank

In addition to monetary donations, most of the food distributed comes from donations given for the event to the food bank, Cerveny explained. Only the turkey, brown sugar and butter are purchased with donation funds.

Cerveny said that Andersen Dairy of Battle Ground donates a trailer for the event to store turkey, milk and other perishables in, and the gallons of milk given out are all donated by the Washington State Dairy Women.

On the day of the Christmas box distribution, Cerveny said that the recipients do not need to leave their cars, rather they line up and volunteers load the meal items into the vehicle.

Each box provides a turkey, canned goods, cereal and pasta, butter, cheese, brown sugar, milk, potatoes and other staples for a Christmas dinner.

Cerveny said that the program provides an opportunity for anyone interested to become a volunteer in some capacity. Volunteers can work for an entire day, or just a portion of a day. She noted that anyone can help, from packing boxes to the interaction of loading the food into recipients’ cars.

Cerveny also said that donations are still being accepted at the North County Community Food Bank.

Recipients of the Christmas Food Box Program pre-registered at the North County Community Food Bank, and will line up in their vehicles to receive their food boxes at the Battle Ground Community Center on Sat., Dec. 16. Photo courtesy of North County Community Food Bank
Recipients of the Christmas Food Box Program pre-registered at the North County Community Food Bank, and will line up in their vehicles to receive their food boxes at the Battle Ground Community Center on Sat., Dec. 16. Photo courtesy of North County Community Food Bank

The Christmas Food Box Program touches both those that receive the boxes, but also those that help distribute them, Cerveny said.

“Each year I watch it grow that sense of giving and caring for our neighbors,” Cerveny said. “It touches so many in the community, from businessmen to kids alike.”

“It’s just a wonderful event that really makes you feel a part of the true sense of Christmas,” Cerveny explained.

Volunteer opportunities are still open. The food boxes will be packed at the Battle Ground Community Center on Dec. 12 and 13 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The boxes will be distributed from the Community Center on Dec. 16 from 7:30 a.m. to approximately 10:30 a.m.

Food donations can be dropped off at the North County Community Food Bank, located at 17 Northeast 3rd Avenue in Battle Ground.

More information can be received by emailing Elizabeth Cerveny at executive.director@nccfoodbank.org, or by calling 360-687-5007.

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About The Author

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Alex Peru is a 2017 graduate of Washington State University Vancouver. He has a bachelor’s degree in History and a double minor in Political Science and Business Administration. Peru grew up in Battle Ground, and graduated from CAM Academy in 2013. He worked for The VanCougar, WSU Vancouver’s campus newspaper, for three years, including one year as the editor-in-chief. When not working, Peru enjoys reading books about history, working on cars and enjoying the outdoors in Clark County’s beautiful rivers, lakes and forests.

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