For the past 38 years, the Weed Community Christmas Basket program has worked to ensure all Weed residents have a joyous holiday.
On Friday, the group gave away complete turkey dinners to 113 families in need. Those who picked up their meals at the Grace Presbyterian Church took home a turkey, potatoes, a loaf of bread, stuffing mix, sweet potatoes, sugar, flour, cantaloupe, zucchini, green beans, onion, celery, carrots, apples, pears and a variety of canned goods.
The abundance of fresh produce included in the bags this year was purchased with an $800 grant from the Ford Foundation, which was secured by the Family and Community Resource Center of Weed.
Program co-chair Evelyn Smith said the rest of the food was donated by local churches, individuals and businesses, including Great Northern.
Also crucial to this year's program is Weed High School's Carlos Sanchez, who took a lead role organizing a canned food drive as part of his senior project.
Sanchez said he decided on the project after a family approached him outside Ray's Food Place, asking for food.
“It made me realize that there really are people in need,” he said. “We should be more grateful for what we have, because there are some who don't have half of that.”
Sanchez placed collection boxes at Scott Valley Bank, Tri Counties Bank, The Eagle's Nest, Salon 96067, WHS and Weed Elementary School.
He helped receive applications and picked up hundreds of pounds of potatoes from a farm in Tulelake. Sanchez also rounded up a group of “elves” to help stuff bags and hand out the meals.
Smith's co-chair, Weed Police Chief Martin Nicholas, said they have been involved with the program for more than 30 years.
“It's an opportunity to help the needy at the time of year when it's most important,” Nicholas said. “It's wonderful to see families and kids get a nourishing dinner... for me, it's well worth the time.”
He and Smith begin organizing for the give-away in late August, since they prefer to preorder some items before the prices go up for the holidays.
The tradition was begun in 1976 by Weed resident Grace Raggsdale.
Smith said she remembers that Raggsdale, who owned the old Weed Thrift Store, operated the business for the sole purpose of providing for families in times of need during the Christmas season.
“She ran that store and every penny that was earned, after expenses, was given for this very purpose,” Smith said.
Although the store no longer exists, and Raggsdale is gone, her legacy of sharing, compassion and the joy of Christmas remains.