Making A Difference: Christmas Fruit Baskets

BELLBROOK — Call it well planned, controlled chaos - that might be best way to describe what I saw at the Bellbrook Lions Club building. It took just minutes for club members and members of the Lions Auxiliary to load more than 240 fruit baskets in their cars.

In teams of two, they hit the road to make deliveries.

“This is our tribute to the widows and widowers of the Bellbrook Sugarcreek area.” Ernie Josche and his wife Jeanne have spent the last 20 years leading this basket giving program.

Jeanne described this as a bittersweet time, “we care about them, and that we wish them them some happiness during the holiday season that’s always hard.” The club started delivering to widows in 1954. That year, about 30 women received them. “We started delivering to men in 1990. As the Josche’s shared this story of giving, they often times finished each other’s sentences. “The guys go to widows, the ladies deliver to widowers.”

Dodi Morgan and Linda Worthington gently placed 12 baskets in the the back of their SUV. They made their way to Jim Russell’s house in Sugarcreek Township. Russell opened the front door with a smile, and said “thank you very much. I appreciate the ladies of the Lions Club.” Morgan and Worthington told him, “we’re glad to see you.” He responded, “I’m glad I’m still upright,” and the three laughed. Russell lost his wife in 2005.

In Bellbrook, Alan Huffman and Jim Common pulled into she same neighborhood to make four deliveries.

This is Huffman’s 11th year. “Last year, I had to deliver a basket to a woman who just lost her husband. That was a really emotional experience.”

Huffman and Common made their way to Sue Lindeman’s house. A few seconds later, she opened her front door. “Hi Sue, how are you? “I’m good how about you?”

Sue smiled and the three talked for a minute. Her husband, Bud passed away three years ago. “My husband was a veteran, he was in Vietnam. And to know he passed away, and have these fine gentlemen bring a gift is very nice. " Even after more than a decade of delivering, Huffman said, “I get teary-eyed when I hear someone talk about how they miss their husband.”

Back with Morgan and Worthington, they made their way to a farm house they had never been before. As they knocked on the door, they could hear a barking dog inside. The widower eventually opened the door, and they handed him the fruit basket. He said, “thank you,” and he slowly closed the door. He lost his wife this year.

As the two walked back to their SUV they said, “usually first timers, they don’t want to talk about it. They get emotional. We’ve actually had a couple cry, break down and cry. They thought they didn’t deserve a basket.”

When it came to the question of whether they thought they were making a difference, Morgan and Worthington quietly responded, “I hope we are. Yes, yes.” At the Lions Club building, Ernie looked at Jeanne as she smiled and said, “yes, it’s definitely making a difference.”

And finally, driving down the road with Huffman and Common, all I could hear was the sound of tires on the road. I glanced over, and it looked like Alan had a tear in his eye. There was no need to ask, I already had my answer.

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