‘Reindeer Experience’ raises funds, goods for Christmas

Many families across the region are in need of assistance as winter sets in, and local groups are organizing efforts to help those in need.

The Community Food Basket - Idaho Falls, in conjunction with local State Farm Insurance agents and the U.S. Marines, will be hosting the fifth annual Magical Reindeer Experience from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Edwards Grand Teton Stadium 14 in Idaho Falls.

The event will feature a variety of family activities, including live reindeer encounters, pictures with Santa Claus, refreshments and more.

Dave Manson, executive director of the Community Food Basket - Idaho Falls, said the event is an opportunity to give the community some holiday cheer while raising funds for many great charities.

“People can bring their kids to see Santa and the reindeer, but also the Marines will be there for Toys for Tots, and we are there to collect canned goods,” he said.

The event is sponsored by area State Farm Insurance agencies, including the office of EmmaLee Robinson, who is entering her second year of participation in the program.

“I was invited last year to join in, and we all take part,” she said. “We do the Food Basket collection and the Marines collect toys. It’s just a fun event for people to come out and raise items for good causes.”

Robinson, the mother of three children, believes it is her duty to lead by example.

“I think one of the greatest opportunities for families with children is to teach your children how to give,” she said.

“Everybody wants and wants, but the best thing we can teach our children is how to give and notice the needs for other people.”

The event will kick-start a series of fundraising events for the Community Food Basket, which needs to replenish supplies after an above-average distribution over the Thanksgiving holiday.

“In November of 2016 we provided food to 1,040 folks, and this year 1,276,” Manson said. “So we assisted 236 more families in November than we did last year. So the need is greater, and fortunately we have a community that respects and understands that. There are a lot of folks that are doing so much to help us meet that need.”

Ultimately, events such as the Magical Reindeer Experience gives hope to Manson that the community can come out and assist those in need during the holiday season.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that these efforts we have coming up are going to make a difference,” he said.

To make a donation to the Community Food Basket, visit communityfoodbasketidahofalls.org or drop off food or supplies at its distribution center at 245 Placer Ave. Hours of operation vary and are listed on the website.

Reporter Marc Basham can be reached at 208-542-6763.