Now in its 25th season of holiday helpfulness, the Christmas Food Basket program of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Benevolent Association (DCSBA) delivered an extra helping of food Thursday morning to some 100 families across Dallas County.
The program is largely supported by donations from Osmundson Manufacturing in Perry and other local businesses.
From their staging grounds at the Dallas County Extension offices on the fairgrounds in Adel, volunteers from the sheriff’s office and various public safety agencies from cities around Dallas County loaded their vehicles and fanned out to area towns and farm houses, bringing meat and potatoes, bread and milk and eggs, blankets and toys “and various other foods and sundries” to county families, according to the Sheriff’s Benevolent Association.
Ryon Murphy, Dallas County communications dispatcher and vice president of the DCSBA, said the governor’s COVID-19 restrictions limited the number of volunteers this year to 15, where 50 volunteers would pitch in during a normal year.
“We had to drastically reduce the number this year,” Murphy said, “due to the proclamation by the governor. We’d usually have 30 to 50 because we’d get Girl Scout troops to volunteer and some of the high schoolers.”
Murphy said donations from DCSBA members, including $540 raised in the No-Shave November and No-Shave December, help support the Christmas Food Basket program and the Shop with a Cop program.
“We were able to get our donors to give a little more this year because there’s a higher need with the COVID,” he said.
The origins of the sheriff’s office holiday benevolence date unofficially to 1990, with the delivery of small, private gifts, and the program slowly grew. As few as eight or 10 baskets were delivered countywide in the early years, according to Perry Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Chris Hinds, a 29-year veteran of the Dallas County Deputy Sheriff’s office.
“A few of us would fill our patrol cars with food,” Hinds said. The program became an officially organized event of the Sheriff’s Benevolent Association in 1995, and the Perry Volunteer Fire Department has participated since 2009, the year of Hinds’ retirement from the county force.
This year’s delivery team in northern Dallas County was led by Hinds, who was assisted by Perry Volunteer Fire Department members Grayson Hill, Kevin McLaughlin, Dave Barkley, Grayson Hill, Rodney Cromwell and Gary Iles. Volunteers from the Perry school system were Perry High School junior Josh Schmitz, Perry Middle School eighth grader Carlia Cervantes and PHS freshman Izzie Garnett.
The Perry Community School District loaned a school bus to help deliver about 50 baskets to families in Perry, Bouton, Dawson, Granger, Minburn and Woodward, Hinds said.
Donations from individuals and local business have always been the backbone of the Benevolent Food Basket program. Doug Bruce, owner of Osmundson Manufacturing in Perry, is a large and longtime supporter of the holiday food program. Hinds said Bruce increased his donation this year in light of the COVID-19 economic slump.
Additional donations over the years have come from Tyson Fresh Meats in Perry, the Adel Fareway, Pepsi Cola, Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling in Waukee, the Perry Hy-Vee, NW Trailer Sales and Service in Adel, the Dallas County Fair Board, Hy-Line International in Dallas Center “and many other business, citizens and volunteers,” according to the DCSBA.