For the first time in years, there will be no Stella Wells Christmas auction, but donations are still being accepted as food baskets will still be handed out to 700 families this year, carrying on the decades-old tradition of helping those in need.
There are other changes this year, too, and the Stella Wells committee is asking for the community’s support to make it all happen.
Applications will be made by phone only. No in-person applications will be accepted this year. Dori Howerter, Stella Wells organizer, said a phone number will be announced later for accepting applications Nov. 23, 24 and possibly Nov. 25. A link on Facebook will also be available.
There is a greater need for community volunteers this year. Students from Parsons Middle School and the Youth Crisis Center normally volunteer to help fill boxes with food items, but Howerter said the students are unable to participate this year, so the committee is asking church groups, clubs and civic organizations interested in forming small groups of volunteers of around six to eight to help fill boxes with non-perishables. There will be about 14 double rows of boxes set up throughout the old Sutherland building the week of Dec. 14. Those interested can contact David Winchell to schedule a time to help organize the food for distribution. Times will be available throughout the day and possibly even into the evening. Help is appreciated, even if a group can only volunteer for an hour or so.
Pick up of the food boxes will operate much like food commodities and farm to table boxes have the last several months, being drive-thru. The boxes will be ready for pick up Dec. 19.
Pick up will be contactless. Everyone is asked to come pick up their own basket. Only two boxes will be allowed in any one vehicle. Those picking up a second box for someone else must have a signed note, Howerter said.
The hours for basket pick up will be announced later.
Deliveries will be made the same day beginning at 8 a.m. and drivers are also needed to assist with that.
“People need to be home because deliveries will be porch only,” Aquila Winchell said. Those making the deliveries will attempt to call or text the individuals to tell them the box is on their porch.
The logistics for places like Belmont Towers will have to be worked out with management.
Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 194, Parsons, KS. Checks can be made out to Stella Wells Christmas Baskets. Stella Wells is a non-profit organization and donations are tax deductible. Receipts are sent upon request.
“We’re hoping some of the big donors will still want to donate even though they don’t get a tree,” David Winchell said.
“For the big businesses it is more about the donation than the fact of them getting anything,” Howerter said, adding that many of the businesses after the holidays give away the ornaments to their employees from the Christmas trees they purchase at the auction.
“It’s a festive evening everyone enjoys, but we just can’t do it this year,” Howerter said.
Around 100 to 120 people usually attend the tree auction and silent auction each year.
“We’d love to have one but we’re not going to fly in the face of all the rules and have one,” David Winchell said.