Fraternal Order of Eagles 3298 in Austintown did their part to help others have a nice Christmas. They held their annual Needy Basket giveaway last week and provided food for 92 underprivileged families in the community.
"We've been doing this for a long time," said Ed Gabrick, chaplain for the lodge. "We do it every year right before Christmas."
He said that, like Santa's famous workshop, the work of FOE 3298 is a year-long activity. Over the summer months, the members hold a reverse raffle, a golf outing and several other fundraisers that when brought together, help fund the Needy Basket program.
Photo special to the Town Crier
Austintown FOE 3298 members proudly stand in front of a massive food collection that they collected for their annual Needy Basket giveaway. They include (front row) Larry Probert, Betty Nizilecki, Janice Hartman, Tom Blake, Kim Speedy and Ed Gabrick; (middle row) Fran Wagner, Doc Styka, Bob Speedy and Tom Siefreed; and (back row) Sean Lyden, John Walters and Jerry Walters.
The funds help buy the food this month, as a crew of FOE members gather at the hall on Raccoon Road to box it all up.
"Each family will get two boxes of food worth around $100," Gabrick said.
The families are found via the membership and word of mouth. Any FOE member can turn in a name and are responsible for insuring the family gets the food. Most families come to the lodge to pick up their gift. Gabrick said that a few can't get out, and the boxes are delivered to them.
According to Gabrick, the FOE 3298 gave out 70 baskets last year, but this year the need had grown and the members rose to meet it. The food was brought in on Saturday, Dec. 17 and was boxed up on Sunday as the families began showing up.
All the volunteers are treated to a breakfast, but Gabrick said they get something else out of the program that is worth much more.
"Everyone who participates has a feeling of knowing they are helping so many," he said. "Without the support of our members, it wouldn't be possible."