Good cause

TWO-WHEELED CARTS proved useful Tuesday morning as dozens of volunteers loaded and delivered food baskets and gifts to needy people and families.

Christmas is still about a week away, but a lot of volunteers for the Norfolk Good Neighbors might feel like Wednesday is the day after.

That’s because Tuesday was delivery day for the Norfolk-based charity.

Weeks of buying, collecting, sorting and wrapping gifts, food and other items culminated in dozens of volunteers making deliveries from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Norfolk.

Families registered ahead of time, so the Good Neighbors was able to match age-appropriate clothing and gifts for the children on the list.

Volunteers assembled the bags at Mount Olive Lutheran Church. They were taken to St. John’s in time for distribution Tuesday.

Marlene Voecks agreed this year to oversee the gifts division of the Norfolk Good Neighbors.

Voecks said she received some help from her husband, Darral. Voecks said she decided to try being in charge of the gifts after retiring from the Norfolk Public Schools.

Voecks said she began helping the Good Neighbors 39 years ago with food out of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church basement.

Back then, only food boxes were distributed — no gifts, she said.

While she hasn’t helped every year, Voecks said she has volunteered for the Good Neighbors many of those years. By having lots of helpers and beginning to wrap gifts during the first part of October, things went well, she said.

Ron Hilkemann also was among the volunteers who transported gifts on Monday and distributed them on Tuesday.

“I heard about it and I know it’s for a good cause,” he said. “Plus, I wanted something to do.”

The food was collected this year at Woodland Park and brought to St. John’s Lutheran Church on Monday. The gifts were kept and wrapped at Mount Olive Church and brought to St. John’s Lutheran Church for distribution on Tuesday.

Hilkemann, who also volunteered last year, said the reaction that most people have for the volunteers who distribute the goods makes it worthwhile.

“Life isn’t just about me,” he said. “It’s about others too. Whenever you can help, just do it.”

A project of the Norfolk Ministerial Association, the Good Neighbors provides assistance not only before Christmas, but all year long.

Only a portion of the money raised from donations goes for Christmas deliveries. The group is shooting for $75,000 this year, which is the same as last year.

The goal was met last year, with a flurry of late donations. So far, this year’s drive is ahead of that pace.

Last year on Dec. 19, the Good Neighbors had raised $31,447. The Daily News already reached that total on Dec. 17 this year, two days ahead of last year’s pace.

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