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Christmas gifts coming from Santa Sacks!

The Christmas Giveaway day is Thursday, December 15th at the Lewisport Community Center. “Everyone will come by the community center at 10:00 a.m.,” Noel said, “and the last time everyone went to the Food Pantry, they got a card.  They drive in and give us their card. some will have food vouchers, toy vouchers and clothes vouchers.  If they are senior citizens and they don’t have kids, they’ll just get food. If it’s a family that has kids and their kids need a coat, or shoes or socks or anything, then we will give them food, clothing and their toys.

Noel & Monty Quinn, of Lewisport, started Santa Sacks in 1987. “He (Monty) heard about all these people not having enough for Christmas and was working for the paper mill at the time,” Noel said. “He went to the mill and asked if they would donate sacks for the program. He went to Mr. Bruner and he printed Santa on the sacks. Then he went to the Clarion and asked for them to print the details of the program, letting people know that they could donate and fill the sacks with such items as canned goods and other non-perishables and drop them off at the old courthouse.
Monty and Dawson Mayfield drove around town and delivered the food to those in need in the community in a pickup truck. It took them a couple of days and they did it. They just drove to houses and delivered them.”
After a few years, Care & Share took over Santa Sacks. There were several years of different people in the community managing it, until one year it almost ended because there wasn’t anyone who had the time, so Noel & Monty picked it back up again and have been doing so every year since.
“Monty came home one day from work and tells me that nobody is going to do stuff for people for Christmas,” she said. ” I was still working at the courthouse and he said, ‘We need to do something.’ This was about a month before Christmas. So we started going around and asking people for donations and we went to the plants and everything and got stuff donated. We went down and gave stuff away at the Food Pantry (in Hawesville). We did that for 2 years. Then, I started talking with Beth Payne, (Manager at St. Vincent DePaul, in Lewisport and Volunteer Coordinator with Toys for Tots and St. Vincent’s).”
Beth’s father was involved with Toys for Tots with others at that time and they agreed to team-up. “We could take care of clothing, food and toys if we all joined forces,” Noel said.
“The school goes through us too. We pick up everybody who is signed up with the Food Pantry. We usually have between 250 and 300 families,” she said, “depending on the year. When covid started, we didn’t want to not do it, so we started a drive-through and Lewisport Lions Club let us use the Lewisport Community Center (for the giveaway day).”
People donate food, toys, gift cards and money. They can donate the toys to Toys for Tots and they can donate money to St. Vincent’s for Santa Sacks, Noel said. “I talked with a local guy here in the county who no longer lives here but he is still associated with Specialty Foods for Bill’s IGA and we applied and got 50 free hams and he helped me get another 200 hams at a discounted price.
So this year, everybody is going to get a ham, green beans, corn, stuffing, tuna fish, macaroni & cheese, fruit cocktail, a bag of fresh fruits, a 5-pound bag of potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes. We added the tuna, mac & cheese and soups this year for after Christmas – for kids at home on Christmas break from school. This County is so good.”
Kimberly-Clark Corporation donates toilet paper, tissues and paper towels. United Steel Workers, H & R Block, as well as the plants, other businesses and individuals in the community all donate. A special thank you from Noel & Monty naming each donor will be printed in a future edition of the Clarion, she said, because the list is very long.
The Christmas Giveaway day is Thursday, December 15th at the Lewisport Community Center. “Everyone will come by the community center at 10 a.m.,” Noel said, “and the last time everyone went to the Food Pantry they got a card. They drive in and give us their card. Some will have food vouchers, toy vouchers and clothes vouchers. If they are senior citizens and they don’t have kids, they’ll just get food. If it’s a family that has kids and their kids need a coat, or shoes or socks or anything, then we will give them food, clothing and their toys.”
On Monday, December 12th, they will take all the toys that have been donated to Toys for Tots along with what they’ve purchased with the money and gift cards that were donated, and the food items and will get everything sorted out for the giveaway. “We’re going to bring all from St. Vincent DePaul – the shoes, socks, coats, etc, and for the ones that don’t pick up at the schools – through Helping Hands (which St. Vincent also helps with),” she said. “Then, on Tuesday we’ll go through them. All the toys have to be separated into age groups. We’ve pretty much got it down to a science now. All of us work so well together.”
The Lewisport Lions Clubs Community Center is located at 15 Pell Street in Lewisport.
If you’re interested in donating or volunteering your help to Santa Sacks, please call Noel Quinn at 270-929-2507.

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