Pratt Elks Lodge 1451 presented the Pratt Food Bank with a $1,300 check to help purchase food for holiday food boxes.

The Pratt County Food Bank got an early Christmas present when Pratt Elks Lodge 1451 presented a $1,300 check to the bank for food purchases. The money comes from an Elks Gratitude Grant and is one of several donations the Elks have made throughout the community.

This money will be used to purchase food for Christmas boxes for families. Each box will have a turkey plus all the food necessary for a family feast, said Diana Harris, food bank Board of Directors president.

Families have until Dec. 12 to sign up for a Christmas box. Most families that sign up for a box are families that are regular clients at the food bank but they still need to sign up for a Christmas box. Families that are not signed up can still get a box but its better to be signed up to help with food purchases, Harris said.

Right now, there are 125 families signed up for the holiday box. On the aver- age, from 170 to 180 families sign up for boxes. On Wednesday, Dec. 12, high school students from the First United Methodist Church will come to the food bank and fold the boxes that are donated, free of charge, by Pratt Industries in Wichita to the food bank.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, a 4-H club will come come and pack the boxes.The students work very fast and it doesn’t take them much time to get the job done, Harris said.

“It’s amazing to watch those kids go through here. It’s slick,” Harris said.

In an average month, the food bank helps 85 families. That number is about the same each month but the numbers do drop some in June and July. In November, 104 families received food boxes and that is up from the average, Harris said.

While its 104 families, the number of people served is higher. Harris estimates from 275-300 people were fed in an average month.

Donations are always welcome at the food bank either food or monetary. Money is good because they can get specific items they need, Harris said.

Food donations to the food bank should be boxed or canned dry goods. Donors need to make sure the food has not expired. Some people clean out their pantry and donate the food but some of the food is past its expiration date. With so many families in need, the food bank can always use donations. Earlier this year, the War on 54, a food gathering contest between Pratt and Kingman schools, netted the food bank a very large donation. But that food has been given out and more is needed for the Christmas baskets.

It takes the efforts of the community in donations and helping prepare boxes to make the food bank work.

“When the community comes together, we can do a lot,” Harris said.

The food bank has been in operation for about 20 years. To be eligible, the person or family has to be a Pratt County resident and they need to have a photo ID and proof of residence. Clients are allowed five boxes a year and only one box per month. Application forms have to be filled out every year.

The food bank is open 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and 10 a.m. to noon on Fridays. It is located at 111 West Fourth Street. Phone number is 672-5150.