Two-year-old Shawn Junior meets Santa at the Moses Lake Food Bank's "Operation Friendship" event.
Shantra Hannibal/Columbia Basin
December 21, 2010
‘Operation Friendship’ helps kids at Christmas
MOSES LAKE - Hard at work shoveling candy and gifts into bags, Santa Claus and Moses Lake Food Bank volunteers helped deliver Christmas to 1,306 kids on Saturday.
The annual "Operation Friendship" event has gone on longer than Food Bank Operations Manager Peny Archer can remember and aims to help Moses Lake families in need by donating Christmas gifts for kids.
By 10 a.m. more than 300 families had come in and left with a bag filled with toys and candy.
Friday, in preparation for the event, volunteers sorted though the hundreds of donated board games, dolls, bicycles, fishing poles, books and other toys.
"We didn't do as well as we have in the past, but there's always next year," said Brian Francis, secretary of the Moses Lake chapter of the Unchained Brotherhood Motorcycle Club, which hosted a toy drive throughout December to help the food bank.
Francis, along with Brotherhood members Zane Peterson and Gary Stack arrived at the food bank Friday with a school bus filled with donations.
Unchained Brotherhood members collected the dozens of toys as well as $3,500 which was used to purchase 332 more toys and gift cards at Walmart and Big 5.
"We usually try to help out the community," Francis said as he filled a bag with toys for an 8-year-old girl.
Volunteer Angie Wilson said the best donated item she saw was an MP3 player.
"But there's lots of Candyland games; that seems to be really popular," Wilson said.
The Moses Lake Assembly of God church donated 200 pre-stuffed stockings that Santa gave out during the event.
Archer says the food banks' 20 or more volunteers had to unwrap all the gifts as a precaution.
"About four years ago we got a gift, wrapped beautifully, it said for a boy, six years old. I hated to open it, but I did and it turned out to be a lump of coal," Archer said.
"It used to bother me because they take so much time to wrap them," says Archer, "But after that, it sure doesn't bother me now."
But while no one received a lump of coal this year, Archer says she doesn't want anyone to feel left out.
So if there are still toys left over, volunteers will continue giving them out next week.
"It's just going to depend on how the toys hold up," Archer says. "If we've got lots left we're going to keep distributing."
Archer says she encourages people to call 509-765-8101 if they would like to get a toy for a child or make a donation.
The Moses Lake Food Bank is located at 1075 W. Marina Drive.
By Shantra Hannibal, Herald staff writer Columbia Basin Herald
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