A long-standing holiday tradition in Preston continued this year, and the Preston Elks Lodge said it has no plans to stop doing the tradition.
Every year, the Elks Lodge donates boxes of food to families in need for Christmas. The boxes include many items, such as canned goods, potatoes, hygiene supplies, sandwich bags, and other necessities.
Ralph West, a long-time Elks member who now organizes the drive with his wife, said the tradition originally started back in 1948 when the Elks Lodge took care of about 25 families.
West said every year since then it has continued to grow and this year they took care of 750 families. They cover all areas from Bancroft, Soda Springs, Lava Hot Springs, Downey, even to Richmond, Utah.
West said much of the donations for the boxes come from the community. The local schools even held a competition to see how could bring in the most canned goods. West said they also had several generous businesses who donated to the cause – either by goods or with a financial donation to purchase supplies.
West said it takes four to five days to organize everything and put the boxes together. They have a lot of community volunteers and Elks Lodge members who help do it.
West said it truly makes a difference for a lot of people. As someone who has been a part of Elks Lodge for more than 50 years, it means a lot to see the Elks Lodge able to give back.
“It gets you right here because you know people shouldn’t’t be in that predicament,” West said. “And this is what the Elks is all about. In fact, we have a saying, ‘Elks Care, Elks Share’ and that’s what we’re about.'”
“I think it’s really cool because people that don’t get to have Christmas, they get these boxes that have been put together by the youth,” said Madalyn Barzee, one of many youth who volunteered to help put boxes together.
“I think it’s great,” said Hyrum Tolman, another youth volunteer. “We’re going to give this to some people that can’t really fend for themselves and get their own food and so I just think it’s a great service and I enjoy it.”
West said at the statewide Elks convention this past year, the Preston Elks Lodge was the top Elks contributor in the state for donations and service.
All of the boxes were delivered Saturday to families in need around the area.