Community to establish Christmas food drive for elderly county residents

Elora Tocci | Staff Writer

Last fall, Ed Schmidt got an email from the Chautauqua County Department of Aging looking for simple Christmas gifts, like winter coats and toothpaste, for local residents. Schmidt decided to donate, but he wanted to take his donation a few steps further.

Schmidt contacted the department to organize a Christmas food drive. He now is working with the Department of Aging, the Department of Religion at Chautauqua Institution and Hurlbut Memorial Community United Methodist Church to prepare Christmas baskets for elderly residents of the greater Chautauqua County community. The baskets will include foods like ham, vegetables, rolls and butter so elderly citizens who cannot easily get around town, purchase food or cook still can enjoy a holiday meal.

The groups have a goal of raising $4,000, which will supply food for about 125 area residents. Schmidt, who lives on the Institution grounds year-round, said he will collect the names of individuals and couples who need baskets from the Department of Aging, put the baskets together and distribute them throughout the county a day or two before Christmas. The groups are working with Wegmans to buy the food for the holiday meals.

“It’s a great way to help county residents who aren’t able to do much for themselves and for the community on the grounds to get involved in the greater Chautauqua community,” Schmidt said.

Although this is the first year the baskets will be delivered, Schmidt said he, Hurlbut and the departments he’s working with plan to make it an annual endeavor.

Donations can be sent to Hurlbut Church at P.O. Box 33, Chautauqua, NY 14722. Checks may be made out to “Hurlbut Church — The Christmas Basket Fund,” and donations of all sizes are appreciated.

“It’s a nice thing to do for people who can’t otherwise afford Christmas dinner,” Schmidt said.