"We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone"
- Ronald Reagan

In October 2020, the Crook County Foundation was approached to take on the management role of the Crook County Holiday Partnership.  This longstanding program has been supporting those in need in Crook County for nearly 30 years. 


When people think of the Holiday Partnership, they may not realize the incredible amount of time and number of volunteers it takes to coordinate it each year.  Starting in the fall, the planning team must begin organizing the key components, including which businesses are hosting food drives or collecting Toys for Tots, where will Trees of Joy be hosted, and who is willing to take a group of names or multiple families to fulfill their gift wishes. 


Then there is the planning of the food boxes themselves.  The goal is to provide a nutritious and complete holiday meal, with enough ingredients to supply additional meals for the whole family receiving it.  This takes a considerable amount of coordination and support from our local grocery stores!  For years businesses have provided discounted purchase options for the large orders needed, which includes perishable items that cannot arrive until late in December right before distribution. 


The Trees of Joy are quite a procedure as well.  An application process welcomes anyone in Crook County who is eligible as a low-income resident to apply.  Each application then needs verified for accuracy.  Volunteers hand create a tag for each individual who has asked for gifts, pre-allocate the requests that we have for group fulfillment, and hand place the remaining tags on the trees which are displayed across the county.  Community members can go into these businesses and select as many tags as they want to fill.  Then you bring the tag and the gifts that you have purchased back to the tree location to check them in by December 15th.


Volunteers collect the food, toys, gifts, and clothing from drop locations in mid-December, gathering at Carey Foster Hall, and begin the process of sorting by family, verifying that the gifts fit the requests, and filling the food boxes.  In traditional years, it takes dozens of volunteers many days to wrap each gift, but due to COVID restrictions, we are unable to have that number of people in close proximity, so gifts will go out in concealing bags this year.  At the same time, other volunteers reach out to recipients to alert them to the day and time they can do our Drive Thru pick up of food and gifts. 


The Crook County Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to pick up a well-oiled machine, that has had tremendous leadership for decades, to ensure the support is there for our community members in need.  Thank you to Crook County and the staff at the Fairgrounds for supporting the event and for the use of Carey Foster Hall, as well as the OSU Extension Office for use of the Clover Club building.  For all the individuals who volunteer, who are far too many to list in this column, we appreciate every hour of your time!  The businesses who host boxes and tree, encourage clients and customers to give, fulfill name tags yourself, and promote the program – we couldn’t do this without you!  And lastly, the community.  A program of this magnitude, ran completely by volunteers, is spectacular.  However, those who step up and take a tag or put a can of food into a food drive box are who make this all possible. 


Prineville and Crook County are known to rally behind our residents, and this is another prime example of that strength and support.  Every person deserves Christmas spirit and we are honored to help make that possible this year.