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Hundreds of volunteers prep Thanksgiving baskets for families in need

Hundreds of volunteers prep Thanksgiving baskets for families in need

JANESVILLE, Wis. - More than 300 volunteers helped pack about 600 Thanksgiving baskets for ECHO clients in the Janesville area Saturday morning.

Volunteer Alice Olson said she's been helping out for about 15 years.

"I love doing this," she said. "The community needs it so badly. With all the different jobs that aren't around anymore, it just needs it."

Olson said there were a lot of new people volunteering this year that she didn't recognize.

"That's good," she said. "That means there's more people that are learning and doing things as well, so that's awesome."

Volunteers packed 600 paper bags with classic Thanksgiving staples like mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls and canned vegetables.

"It's a lot of food," Jessica Locher, associate director of ECHO said.

She said there were about 15,500 pounds of food brought in to make the holiday meals.

"We like to provide this food so our clients can be like normal families who are able to celebrate the holidays," Locher said.

Some families came to pick up their Thanksgiving baskets in person. Marie and Keith Erickson were touched by the number of volunteers who came together to make their Thanksgiving meal possible.

"It was heartwarming that people are considerate of other people," Marie Erickson said. "I'm very appreciative of it that people care for other people and not just selfish."

Olson said that's exactly the reason she enjoys volunteering.

"You can see the happiness in other people's faces," she said.

Locher said she owes everything to the volunteers who came out to help.

"Without the volunteers, what we do at ECHO is totally not possible," she said. "As our acronym, "everyone cooperating to help others," this is everyone cooperating to help others, and so we are very grateful to them."

ECHO buys the food for the Thanksgiving baskets in bulk, instead of having people donate food, so all the baskets are the same. Locher said the organization is still looking for donations to help cover the cost of the food. Each Thanksgiving basket cost about $30 to put together and feeds about 6 people.

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