Saturday morning, 300 families from Darby to Stevensville were given an early Christmas gift from the Bitterroot Kiwanis, Hamilton Key Club and other volunteers. It was the annual Kiwanis Food Drive and club members collected the food at the Hamilton High School commons on Friday and distributed the boxes of food (photo above) Saturday morning, December 19.

Organizers had earlier collected names of families, along with information such as how many kids and any special needs. Often, two boxes containing food for several meals and things like toothbrushes were given to each family. Club members delivered to 61 families in the Darby area and Jamie Tadvick of the Kiwanis said boxes helped folks from Darby on up the valley to Stevensville. The long-standing food drive was spearheaded initially in the 1970s by Hamilton teachers Gail Lewis and Bill Delaney and has been a major annual effort by the Hamilton-based organization. This year, an estimated 1,100 boxes of food will help many people. The club organizers thanked the many people who donated to the food drive again this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a few changes this year, including lots of masks and one major problem with an outside distribution tent at the Hamilton High School gym entrance. The tent had been set up Friday afternoon, but an early morning windstorm blew it onto the gymnasium roof and wall. That's where it was then club members arrive Saturday morning. They pulled it down, found that it was not severely damaged and the distribution proceeded as planned.

The wind, however, caused other problems throughout the valley. The 4 a.m. storm blew down a huge tree just south of Corvallis, near the MRL rail crossing, completely blocking the East Side Highway. It took about two hours to clear the road. (see photo below)

Remnants of a wind-toppled tree along the East Side Highway. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)

Check Out These Cute Quarantine Buddies