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Group’s Christmas baskets are a 30-year-old tradition

YOUNGSTOWN – For nearly three decades, a group of dedicated volunteers has pitched in to help make the holidays a little happier for those less fortunate in the Youngstown-Porter area.

This year is no different. Calling themselves the “Community Christmas Baskets” group, organizers invite the public to donate canned goods to be included in their baskets. They can be placed in plastic bags on their doorsteps and local Boy Scouts will be around Wednesday evening to pick them up.

“I encourage people to drop their canned goods off in the Red Brick gym Thursday or Friday morning if they are missed for the pickup at their homes,” said Margaret-Ann “Peggy” Hanson. She has chaired the project for more than a dozen years.

“There are only so many Scouts and sometimes they can’t get to every house to pick up the canned goods,” Hanson said.

She said the donated canned goods are included in large baskets of food that also features hams, purchased with money donated by the Youngstown Lions Club. The Lions Club, along with several other local community groups, also will pitch in to pack and deliver baskets Saturday morning.

The group of volunteers begins gathering Monday at the Red Brick/Village Center, 240 Lockport St., to sort presents.

Hanson said she has had a large number of toys donated this year. On Thursday, presents will be wrapped and Hanson will purchase additional items for the food baskets. She said all of the churches in the area donate money for the effort. The Christmas gifts will be packed Friday morning and the crew will start packing and delivering food baskets at 9 a.m. Saturday. Then the cleanup begins following the week’s activities in the gym.

The idea for the Christmas baskets originated with the Youngstown Civic Guild, Hanson recalled. She said her group usually serves around 50 needy families per year.

She may be reached at 745-7285 for information about a family in need.