Canned corn and boxes of stuffing were practically flying into boxes at the city of Hermiston’s annual office holiday party on Tuesday.
Staff, elected officials and their families lined up along a conveyor belt set up in the Hermiston Conference Center, working together assembly-line style to fill 420 boxes with food for needy families in the community. The food, along with toys for families with young children, will be distributed via Hermiston’s Christmas Express program.
“Henry Ford’s got nothing on these guys,” said Ric Sherman as he watched.
Sherman said he has been helping coordinate the food drive for Christmas Express for 37 years, but this year was the first time he had actually watched the food be packed into boxes. He said the program, administered by the Hermiston Police Department, is a shining example of Hermiston generosity.
“This is Hermiston’s finest hour,” he said.
Police Chief Jason Edmiston said the department had purchased $4,000 worth of turkeys and $6,200 in other food items, to be added to the 13,925 food items collected by Hermiston schools and the fresh produce donated by three local farms. The food was loaded into boxes and then shrink-wrapped onto pallets within 45 minutes. Extra food that didn’t go into the boxes for about 420 specially-chosen families will be donated to the Agape House to be used where the nonprofit sees the most need.
Christmas Express started 48 years ago when a local businessman had some toys he wanted to donate and asked then-police chief Bob Shannon whether he knew of anyone in town who needed them. From that grew a program that now serves hundreds of struggling families in Hermiston each year, nominated by churches and other local agencies to receive food and presents for Christmas.
Edmiston said he was born and raised in Hermiston but didn’t understand the depth of the community’s generosity until he became involved with Christmas Express in 2004.
“There wasn’t a person I couldn’t call and say ‘I need this’ and it would be there,” he said.
Contact Jade McDowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4536.