On Nov. 24, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I had 90 second graders from Xavier Grade School in the Pantry. They had the school’s Food Collection that day and they wanted to help shelve the food. We talked about the many reasons families need help, how it could happen to anyone of us. We talked about the importance of each donated item. I told them that the most important ingredient was the love they put into each donation. Families are always amazed that we have so many caring people in our communities.

With many donations of food, cash, Angel gifts and other toys, the Pantry distributed two boxes of food for each of the 259 families and a bag of Christmas gifts for 384 children. The families were grateful for the food and the gifts, but the real joy was knowing that others care.

A grant from Dubuque Racing Association helped us purchase the beef roasts and hams. Area schools, parishes, organizations, scouts and individuals donated food, cash and gifts. The Angels were once again distributed by area banks, credit unions, Anytime Fitness, Shopko and a few churches. Layette Ladies gave us baby clothes and quilts. Payless and Fareway had Christmas food collections and help us in other ways throughout the year. Tauke Motors gives us a van to use. Modernfold, Spireon, Toys for Tots, Victory Ford, Three Rivers FS, Elite Dental, the Dyersville Commercial and many others brought in food and gifts.

Dyersville Chiropractic Office provides the rent free home for the Pantry 12 months a year —we are grateful. Swiss Valley donates hundreds of boxes for distributing the food and gifts.

Doug Klostermann generously gives us the use of his building for assembling and distributing. Jim Theisen’s donation helps us purchase $10 coupons for fresh produce for the families throughout the year.

Volunteers, youth and adults, helped us collect the food and gifts and then helped fill and distribute the food boxes and gift bags. Smiling faces on the workers, the givers and receivers affirm our belief that this is the true spirit of Christmas — a labor of love.

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas and a peaceful New Year, from the Pantry Board: Mickey Kelchen, Dave Clemen, Barb Moyer, Diane Hess, Carol Ludwig, Randy Burkle, Jim Langel, Bernice Thole and Cookie Scherrman.