Taking care of those less fortunate at this special time of the year has been a tradition going back 77 years in Burbank. The Burbank Coordinating Council, an organization made up of representatives from most of the various organization in Burbank, began the Christmas Basket Program in 1936. Now known as the Holiday Basket Program, it’s something everyone in the community can participate in.
The Burbank Coordinating Council plans to help about 575 families (over 2000 adults, teens, and children) this holiday season with gifts of food and toys and other gift items. Burbank City departments, service clubs, schools, businesses, churches and individuals all join together to collect donations from the community and spread holiday cheer to those in need. While many organizations and individuals in Burbank have adopted about 475 families, the BCC will build baskets for any families not adopted. It is estimated that there will be between 100 and 200 families who have not been adopted.
On Saturday, December 7, the BCC will hold a food drive for the unadopted families at 13 stores in the city, including markets, CVS Drug Stores, and Kmart. The BCC still needs helpers to collect food from shoppers at these stores, and people may call Barbara Salamon at (818) 843-7571 to volunteer for an hour or more on Saturday. It’s an activity that the whole family can participate in. The volunteers simply pass out a list of needed items as shoppers enter the store. Donors then leave the items as they exit the stores.
Items needed most are paper goods (toilet paper, paper towels, napkins), stuffing, shampoo, toothpaste, laundry soap, and grocery gift cards for perishable items. Items like cookies, pudding, fruit bars, tuna, macaroni and cheese, gravy, pancake mix and syrup, hot cereals, diapers, and baby supplies are always needed. Any non-perishables would be welcomed and used in the baskets.
The age group the BCC always needs help with providing are for teens, since most people donate toys or stuffed animals for younger children. Gift cards to local stores and fast food restaurants, makeup kits, board games, DVDs, adult sweatshirts and jackets are some of the suggested gifts for teens. BCC has about 100 teens to help and would welcome gifts for them especially.
“It takes everyone working together to make this tremendous project happen each year,” commented Janet Diel, BCC President, “There are so many ways and days to help — pick one or pick all. Don’t miss the chance to come and ‘feel good’ being a donor or volunteer. It is an experience you will always remember.”
The BCC also needs volunteers to help with packing and sorting food items on Wednesday, December 11, at the Little White Chapel Christian Church. On Friday, December 13, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. they will be moving everything to Washington Elementary School where baskets will be assembled with food and presents, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. The loading and delivering of baskets to all 575 families will be on Saturday, December 14, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers are also needed that day to call the families to make sure they will be home when the baskets are delivered.
If you would like to volunteer, email CCHolidayBaskets@aol.com, or call Janet Diel at 818-216-9377. Volunteers are needed for any and all of the days.
Managing Editor Stan Lynch contributed to this report.