Donna Dickson isn’t sure what year it was that she first started helping with the Kiwanis Club Wishing Tree food distribution, but she does recall how it happened.
Gayle Van Havel saw her downtown and said she needed help sorting food for delivery. Donna showed up to help and she and her husband, Dave, have been steady sorters every year since.
In fact, the Dicksons eventually took over the project themselves. Every December, they head out to the Morenci Area EMS meeting room to face the stacks of donated food and perishables.
As the project grew over the years, so did the quantity of food stored in the facility. With more food, there’s less room for people walking the skinny aisles between tables of boxes and food items.
It was easier, Dave said, for just the two of them to get the job done. They’ve developed their own method and it serves them well.
Once the food is sorted, cardboard boxes with the address of the recipients are filled with items.
The Dicksons start with the largest families and work their way down to single individuals.
What happens if there are boxes remaining and food is running short?
“We call Rosemary Dickerson and she goes shopping,” Donna said.
The Morenci Kiwanis Club has a few “shopping elves” who make sure there’s an adequate supply for everyone on the list.
The Kiwanis Club relies heavily on donations from area residents, but this year items were also obtained from the South Central Michigan Food Bank in Battle Creek. Dickerson and her sister, Cheryl, along with Kiwanian Mike Broge, drove a trailer to the bank for a quick shopping trip.
Members of the high school Volunteer Club will help the Kiwanians deliver food and gifts this weekend.
“This is the largest year I’ve ever seen,” Dickerson said, but through the generosity of people, the needs are being filled. “Morenci is taking care of Morenci again.”
In addition to the groceries, the children from families in need will receive gifts of clothing and other items.
Three Wishing Trees were decorated with stars—each one representing the needs of area children who are in need of assistance.
Dickerson had some concerns about filling the needs, but in the end, nearly every star was taken by someone. Those left were collected by the Kiwanis Club and once again, the elves went to work.
This year, 114 families were on a list needing food and 190 stars were on the Wishing Trees.
Gifts are generally kept at United Bank and Trust where Dickerson works, but not this time.
“We outgrew the bank this year,” she said, and the gifts were taken to Church of the Nazarene to prepare for delivery.
Kiwanis president Dennis Owens said that each food box contains about $100 worth of food and gifts purchased probably average about $40.
“That’s close to $20,000 of generosity,” he said.