Cops deliver Christmas meals to families in need

PAXTON — About 50 families in Ford County were to receive a free Christmas meal Friday, courtesy of the Illini Lodge 17 Fraternal Order of Police’s food basket program.

Ford County sheriff’s deputy Dave Kaeding stopped by the Paxton Police Department on Friday morning, towing some 30 food baskets, along with hams and turkeys, using a trailer attached to his sport-utility vehicle.

Kaeding said the food would be given out to about 50 families in the county. He said he was going to deliver most of the food boxes to families in need himself, but also was going to give some to the Paxton Police Department, Gibson City Police Department and Ford County Public Health Department for each agency to distribute to families in the area.

Each food basket contains a “complete meal,” Kaeding said, including milk, eggs, cookies, fruit, carrots, potatoes and marshmallows. Each family receiving a food basket was also to receive a ham and possibly a turkey also — depending on the size of the family. Sixty hams and 60 turkeys were donated by Meats Plus in Loda, Kaeding said.

Families were selected to receive the food baskets — each valued around $40 — based on their financial need. They were identified by the participating agencies.

“It’s just basically on calls, if you see somebody who needs it — somebody who’s struggling, working two or three jobs with kids, single parents,” Kaeding said.

“Most of the families appreciate it,” Kaeding continued. “There is the occasional family who says they don’t want it and for us to give it to somebody else who they think needs it more.”

Kaeding said he enjoys doing this every year.

“I just do it because I know people need it,” Kaeding said. “I use my own gas, and I usually do it on my own time. The sheriff is letting me do it today on his time, so I very much appreciate that.”

Kaeding said officers represented by Illini Lodge 17 also were to distribute food baskets in neighboring Champaign County on Friday. Between Ford and Champaign counties, nearly 500 food baskets were to be given out in all.

“We used to do like 1,200, but now we’ve had to scale it down due to lack of funds,” Kaeding said.

Illini Lodge 17 solicits funds each year for its food basket program, along with providing child safety seats and sending kids to summer camp.

The labor union represents officers from the Champaign Police Department, Rantoul Police Department, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, University of Illinois Police Department, Ford County Sheriff’s Office, Mahomet Police Department, Tolono Police Department, Gibson City Police Department, Fisher Police Department and Paxton Police Department.

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