By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Given the cold start, the end result was something of a, well, miracle.
Brigett Eisele, who led the Gubser Miracle of Christmas fundraising event during the holiday season, gave numbers from the annual event, which ran from Dec. 6 to 26 in the Gubser neighborhood. The update was given during the Jan. 16 Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association meeting.
After her update, Eisele presented a check for $19,297.89 to leaders with the Marion-Polk Food Share.
“This was our first year taking it over,” Eisele said. “My husband and I did it with three other families, so it definitely was a group effort. We tried some new things this year. We put a gator up on windows around the neighborhood for the kids. We tried some caroling and got good feedback on how to improve for next year. Gerald Nichols got some community sponsors.
“We’re already getting geared up for next year,” she added. “We want to involve all the Keizer schools. Some schools took a night each this year. We want to get all the other schools to come out and increase donations that way.”
Just as the three-week event started, the region was hit by an unusually cold stretch of weather.
“We were hit really hard in donations the first few nights with that weather,” Eisele said. “When we have a bad storm, donations go down. Likewise when it’s really cold out. Usually it starts off low anyway in the beginning. The night before the Christmas parade we see an increase, then we have a big night on the parade night. It dips down after that, then the Friday before Christmas picks up. Christmas Eve is one of our biggest nights.”
Eisele was thankful for all the volunteers that helped staff the food donation barrels.
“We had 10 volunteers a night,” she said. “We had some new people come on board this year. We are ready to do it again next year with help from our crew.”
Eisele said 21,772 pounds of food were collected, in addition to the $19,297.89 raised in donations.
Mike Garrison, chair of the Marion-Polk Food Share Board, accepted the check along with Phil McCorkle, vice president of development for MPFS.
“This is the largest check we’ve gotten,” Garrison said. “This was a fantastic effort.”
McCorkle echoed the sentiments.
“The effort you put into this and the result really is amazing,” he said. “You can see how many people you’re impacting through this effort.”
McCorkle said the food MPFS got from the drive equaled 15,665 meals.
“That’s a lot of food,” he said.
McCorkle also noted how far the money will go.
“It’s probably the largest group donation we’ll get this year,” McCorkle said. “Wow. That’s just amazing. It’s amazing what we can do with a dollar. Each donated dollar to the food share we can turn into five pounds of food. Ten dollars is about enough for a food box, so 209 families will get a food box thanks to what you did.”