The lawn in front of the Colfax County Attorney’s Office was full of boxes packed with food Saturday as a team of volunteers worked to serve families in need.
This has been the norm each December for the Schuyler Food and Toy Drive, which start eight years ago after former Colfax County diversion officer Saul Soltero visited the home of a youth under his watch.
"One boy said he didn’t have a lot of food at his house, so my wife and I bought him a few things and took it to his house," Soltero said. "It was no big deal, just a few items. When we got to his home, we saw that his family had almost no food.”
Soltero partnered with the Colfax County Attorney's Office to begin collecting and donating food and other household items to area families who need assistance.
“One family grew to three,” Soltero said. “Then three became six, then nine, and then it grew way more than we could ever imagine.”
This year the effort brought food, clothing and Christmas gifts to nearly 60 families, including more than 150 children.
Volunteers wrapped the presents at the Colfax County Courthouse before they were delivered along with the other items.
“As soon as I walked into the courthouse I noticed there was a hum,” volunteer Carol Johnson said. “It just felt like Santa’s workshop. It was just phenomenal.”
Colfax County Attorney Denise Kracl said donations were not hard to come by this year.
They came from as far away as Louisiana and Arizona and locally from collections held at Schuyler Community Schools and Leigh Community Schools. Schuyler Central High School's Project S group raised $1,700 for the drive and other donations came from individuals, businesses and service groups across the community.
The Fallen Outdoors, a group that organizes hunting and fishing trips for active military members and veterans, brought a truckload of food for the effort.
Miriam Campuzano, 22, and Natalie Campuzano, 14, helped by delivering packages and translating for families.
“I wanted to do this because it’s my childhood community,” Miriam said. “I just love to help with this because not only am I able to give something back, but I can also see just how grateful people are to help out. It’s like we’re bringing someone’s Christmas.”
Miriam wanted her sister Natalie to help spread holiday cheer and hope, as well.
“I wanted Natalie to see people’s reactions to getting their deliveries,” she said. “It was really important for me to be able to share this passion I have with her."
A special donation was also made this year as a vehicle was presented to one family.
"When the lady saw the car she fell to her knees and bawled. That is precisely why we do this," Soltero said.