A feast of kindness: County food baskets

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The well-oiled machine of volunteers kicked into gear yet again to distribute baskets of food in Colusa County so that no one will go without food for the holidays.

Started by Janita Smith, the Colusa County Food Basket Association has been providing holiday feasts for 25 to 30 years, according to Patty Hickel, spokeswoman for the organization.

This year, Hickel said that 458 applications for food baskets were received.

Volunteers worked together like a symphony over the course of three days to get the donated food gathered, sorted, and delivered to hundreds of families on Friday.

Canned food also found its way into the hands of the homeless that did not apply for a basket.

“It is quite a process,” said Hickel. “Everybody does their part and these guys are great. One thing that is good is that they only work a couple of hours each day so nobody gets burned out.”

On Wednesday, the schools delivered the donated items to the Colusa County Fairgrounds, where they were sorted. On Thursday, hundreds of boxes were filled. Perishable items were purchased on Friday to top off the baskets.

Volunteers were from 4-H, high school athletes, or veterans and individuals who just wanted to give back to their community.

“It’s crazy how organized they are,” said volunteer Rachael Mattingly, who came down from Chico with her husband Hugh. The couple lost their home in the Camp Fire and had stayed temporarily in Colusa with a family member, which was why they got involved in the project last year.

Hickel took over the basket give-away nine years ago with help from friends Sue Oliver and Susan Paletta, who said they have been volunteering for years just because they like doing it. ■