Nearly 300 families of military members and veterans received Christmas hams and boxes of food Saturday outside the headquarters of Keystone Military Families

The nonprofit, 331 Main St., Shoemakersville, helps active military personnel, veterans and their families in Pennsylvania.

“It’s astounding that there are so many people who need help,” Kyle Lord, executive director, said. “We distributed well over 25,000 pounds of food.”

Lord said vehicles began lining up at 6:30 a.m. continued steadily throughout the distribution from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The boxes of food were intended to help local families make it through Christmas Day and the rest of the holiday season.

Keystone partners with Helping Harvest food bank, which packed the boxes. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Keystone offered the fresh and packaged foods in a walk-thru setting that allowed families to make selections. But to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, the organization opted for biweekly drive-thru distributions.

About 30 volunteers arrived early and dressed to stand in the cold, Lord said, and not even a frozen hydraulic line in one of the trucks could dampen their spirts.

A visit from Santa riding on a firetruck, thanks to Shoemakersville Fire Department and the fire police, brightened the day for those waiting in line, she said.

Costumed volunteers, the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who, helped Santa hand out toys to the children of military families. The toys were donated through Blandon Fire Company and area nonprofits and businesses. Each child also received a warm coat, hat and gloves and a handmade chocolate lollipop, donated by a volunteer, Lord said.

Boxes of food also were available to the small number of non-military families that showed up, she said. The children of those families were given stockings stuffed with prizes and treats so they would not feel left out.

“It was an amazing display of community support for those that are in need of help,” Lord said.

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