Chamber renews Christmas food basket drive; giveaways Dec. 21

The Golden Valley Chamber of Commerce has collected enough items for food baskets for an estimated 130 families, or about 700 people, chamber officials said.

The chamber obtained three tons of food and plans to distribute food baskets all day Dec.

21 in the Golden Paradise Landowners building at Verde Road and State Route 68.

"It cost close to $2,000 to put those food baskets together," chamber President Chris Crow said.

"This is how much money is raised."

Food basket program participants will distribute a ham or a turkey, eggs, bread, butter, potatoes, onions and "an assortment of canned goods" to each family, said Debbie O'Harra, event chairwoman.

O'Harra said food baskets will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis.

"We work on the honor system," O'Harra said.

"We don't guarantee a basket to everyone who signs up."

While indicating that recipients do not have to meet income requirements, O'Harra and Crow said the food giveaways will be based on referrals from people who know the prospective recipients.

For instance, store employers or owners might be familiar with the family's finances.

The food giveaway for the holidays has been going on for about 18 years, O'Harra said.

The chamber took over the giveaway about eight years ago from Pistoleros and Roses, a group that performs mock gunfights.

This year, the chamber began the food drive around the end of October, O'Harra said.

Participants at a Halloween carnival were asked to donate a can of food.

Food basket program participants placed donation barrels throughout Golden Valley.

St.

Mary's Catholic Church, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2555, American Legion Post 22 and several businesses contributed money to pay for food.

The chamber also had help from Black Mountain Elementary School and the Eagle Academy charter school.

Black Mountain students gathered 1,000 pounds of food before the Thanksgiving holiday, Principal Scott Rhoades said.

O'Harra said, "It's a large group of people spending a large period of time that have been dedicated to make Christmas warm for everyone."

For more information on the program, call the chamber office at 565-3311.