Elks’ Christmas Baskets

Katey Masterson, exalted ruler of the Elks, and Adie Darden, organizer of the Elks Christmas Baskets drive. Photo courtesy of the St. Maries Gazette Record.

If community events are the soul of our town, then the annual Elks’ Christmas Basket drive is our heart.

The charity event, which has run each year for nearly two decades, is put on by the St. Maries Elks and made possible by countless volunteers and donations from local businesses and community members.

Along with food baskets, the group also provides presents for children younger than 18 to area families who might otherwise not be able to afford traditional Christmas fare during the holiday season. There is no criteria requirement, a family or individual only needs to ask for help or request help for a loved one by a certain deadline.

Although it seems the need grows each year – volunteers delivered nearly 250 baskets in 2011 alone – because of the overwhelming generosity of the community, the donations grow just as rapidly.

If the community’s support of the drive is its soul, then Bob Marzulli was its heart.

Mr. Marzuilli – or Marz, as he was fondly referred to by many – was instrumental in making the charity effort as big of an operation as it is today and organized it every year until he passed it along to its current director, Adie Darden, in 2004.

Bob Marzulli created and organized the Elks' Christmas Basket charity drive for years.

 

Marz died November 15, 2011.

Known by many to be gruff, loud and grouchy, yet understood  by all to be loving, caring and charitable, Marz was an institution in St. Maries, donating his time and energy to many different community events.

Marz encompassed all that the Elks’ Christmas Basket charity drive was about – looking out for one another in the simplest and most purest way, by giving – and all of the good the program continues to do today.

 

 

Ondraya Barker, 5, and Haylee Waddell work to wrap presents for children 5 years old and younger during the 2011 Elks' Christmas Basket drive. Photo courtesy of the St. Maries Gazette Record.

 

Dorothy Shields and Kristi Wear work together to get appropriate presents in each box. Photo courtesy of the St. Maries Gazette Record.

Kathy Wolter laughs as she helps organize boxes. Photo courtesy of the St. Maries Gazette Record.