PORT ORCHARD — On Dec. 23, 48 families and a total of 158 children were given the gift of a merrier Christmas thanks to Port Orchard Cares, a program run by the Soroptimists, the Port Orchard Rotary and the South Kitsap Rotary.
The triumvirate of good cheer worked a couple weekends asking shoppers to donate food from groceries stores to provide these families with the necessary fixings for a holiday meal, as well as some supplemental groceries. Then the groups purchased cold groceries such as milk, turkeys and ham closer to Dec. 23 from the Albertson’s on Sedgwick.
On top of that, those 158 children, as well as some seniors in the community, were given gifts provided by the rotarians and Soroptimists, based on a list of three wants and three needs.
“We have families that have had bad luck this year,” said Leslie Reynolds-Taylor, with the Port Orchard Rotary. “It’s something we enjoy doing. Our community needs it, some of our families need it.
“These particular families would, in other cases, not be able to provide Christmas presents.”
On Dec. 23, a large group of volunteers began working at about 8:30 a.m. to wrap presents and organize the food to be given to each family.
Glenn Schmitt with the Port Orchard Rotary said every year, this projects helps more and more families.
“When I first started back in 2001, we had about 30 families,” Schmitt said. “So it’s 50 percent bigger than when we started out.”
Schmitt said this was a project they did solely for the benefit of the community in which they all live.
“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “When people come in and start getting their stuff, tears start to flow, and it’s tears of gratitude. People who are receiving seem to be just genuinely grateful.
“There’s so much gratitude for this. We don’t do this for anything other than, it’s an opportunity to serve our community.”
Michelle Beahm is the online editor for the Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.