Photo courtesy of the City of Edgerton

The scent of smoked turkey might not scream Merry Christmas to you, but for dozens of families in Edgerton and the surrounding area, it’s heaven-“scent.” That’s because those turkeys are delivered just before Christmas to families on the Edgerton Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund list. Volunteers pack up boxes full of food and hand deliver those meals to families that need a little extra love around the holidays.
“We’ve got a great committee that helps us find families that may be falling through the cracks,” says Donald Roberts, Edgerton mayor. “I’ve been in houses where the heat is on low and there’s no Christmas tree in the corner because that family simply can’t afford to pay their bills and still put gifts under the tree. Christmas isn’t an option if you have to choose between eating or buying medicine. Especially with the ongoing pandemic and rising inflation causing food prices to soar, we’re helping more families than ever.”
This season, the fund helped nearly 140 people, including dozens of children. Each family receives a gift card to purchase gifts and a full meal so they can celebrate the holidays. The fund also supplied hams and a gift to more than 90 seniors.
Local churches, schools, the Edgerton Food Pantry, and other organizations that support Edgerton nominate families that need help. “We’re called to serve others,” said Casey Carter, pastor of New City Church, one of the volunteers on the committee, “We’re spreading joy and hopefully easing burdens for these families, just like Jesus would want us to do.”
Many of the people on the list are on a single or fixed income, so presents at Christmastime are just not an option. “The generosity overwhelms me. One income doesn’t go far enough for us at Christmas to buy extras for our kids,” wrote one woman who sent a thank you note to the committee.
ElevateEdgerton!, the economic development agency that partners with the City of Edgerton, raised money this year for the fund by offering hoodies, mugs and hats for sale as part of their new Explore Edgerton campaign. James Oltman, president, also gave his time, volunteering to help deliver meals. “The Mayor’s Christmas Tree Program is such a special way to give back to the community. Being able to see first-hand the effect this program has for people at a time when it is needed most is something I’ll never forget. ElevateEdgerton! is humbled to be able to contribute to this program and we are excited to be a part of something so amazing for the community.”
Work is underway to expand the program and launch a full nonprofit. Roberts is looking toward the future. “I want to be able to offer utility assistance and weatherization programs for Edgerton residents,” he said. Donations and support from individuals, as well as corporate giving remains key to the program’s success.
“We have tremendous support from this community, and I cannot say thank you enough to the people who donate to the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund.”
— Article contributed by Kara Banks, City of Edgerton