FARMINGTON — The Gerry Wiles Holiday Food Basket Drive is providing 145 holiday baskets to families throughout Franklin County.
Sponsored by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, members gathered Friday to start distributing boxes filled with items for a holiday meal.
The boxes include a turkey and all the fixings with enough for a large family or more than one meal for smaller families, Glen Kapiloff, chamber president, said.
The annual drive is a collaborative effort between several local businesses and many individual donors, he said of food and monetary donations collected.
Although the chamber has held the drive for several years, over the past four years, it has been named for Gerry Wiles, who gave a lot of time and effort to help others, his widow, Roma Wiles, said Friday as she and daughter Rhonda Wiles-Rosell were present to help with the distribution.
“He was most supportive of anything to do with children,” she said. “He wanted to be sure they got enough to eat and were warm.”
The drive is something that carries on in his name, she said.
Wiles, a funeral director, passed away in 2012.
“It would be Gerry’s personal request that wherever you are, whenever you can, do so much for a child as is possible by sharing your time, talents and values,” according to a tribute shared by the chamber.
During the drive, the chamber seeks donations of food and monetary contributions for the community service project.
A large amount was raised during the chamber’s recent annual meeting, where 85 people purchased a decorative balloon for $25 to post at their table during the meeting, Kapiloff said.
Local grocery stores Wal-Mart, Hannaford and Save-A-Lot were acknowledged for creating the food baskets.
Several baskets will also be distributed to all food pantries in Franklin County, Shannon Smith, chamber board member, said.