Marion-Polk Food Share President Ron Hays accepts a check from the Miracle of Christmas fundraiser from Sami Griffin, whose family provides crucial support for the event. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Organizers of the Miracle of Christmas light display in the Gubser neighborhood are hoping a few good people will take over the tradition this year.

The Griffin and Taylor families have hosted the donation tent in front of their home. The event ranks among Marion-Polk Food Share’s largest food drives and fundraisers. The 2011 version raised $17,381 and some 24,000 pounds of food. The nonprofit group reports it can get about five pounds for every donated dollar.

After five years, Mike Griffin and Jim Taylor have decided it’s time to step back. Now they want to help find the next hosts, and are willing to support whoever steps up. The hosts would need to live in the Gubser neighborhood on the current lights route.

“Anytime you do something like this you get more than you give,” said Taylor, “a certain self satisfaction out of helping somebody. We’ve gotten to meet a lot of neat people who I didn’t know before.”

Plus look at it this way: You’ll always have stories to tell.

There was the time a volunteer mistakenly thought a woman had brought her pooch along for the ride and gave her a dog treat. The woman ate it anyway.

Or the time when someone donated a few bottles of whiskey. Or this:

“A year ago we had the police department collecting food,” Taylor recalled, “and not three minutes after they left a car drives buy and there’s two guys in it. They stop, and rolled down the window and this huge cloud of dope smoke came rolling out the window.”

That said, it is quite the commitment. The event stretches more than three weeks, with donations taken from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. nightly. Even with volunteer groups, it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it scenario.

“Because it’s in front of your house, you’re still kind of a supervisor,” Griffin said.

Groups like Keizer Police, Keizer Fire District, Boy Scout Troop 121 and several churches step up each year to help lighten the load, and often neighbors come by to help. Several families could team up to take on the responsibility, Griffin said.

And they hope to see a tradition that’s been ongoing since 1986 keep thriving.

“It’s amazing what’s accomplished that does so much good for people less fortunate than us,” Griffin said. “The excitement, the busy-ness of it, it’s kinda like a show.”

Griffin and Taylor will pass along the tent along with volunteer contact information. To help email Keizerxmas@gmail.com.