by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Bob Sullivan, commander of Tigard American Legion Post 158, says the group is wrapping up 130 boxes of food and gifts to deliver to area families and veterans. There is barely room to walk in the meeting hall of the Tigard American Legion Post 158 this week. 

Row after row of boxes line the floor and tables. Tucked out of sight in a nearby closet, bags of toys and stuffed animals reach floor to ceiling.

It’s just another day for Post Commander Robert Sullivan, who has been working for weeks to prepare for the Legion’s annual Christmas deliveries. 

The Tigard American Legion on Scoffins Street has been donating goodies to families in need each Christmas for more than 20 years. 

Legion members will hand out the boxes to families this Friday and Saturday. Sullivan said the project has become a tradition. 

“It’s just what we do,” he said. “We’ve always done this.”

This year, more than 130 families will be receiving food boxes of turkeys, toys and canned goods, Sullivan estimated. 

“And this might not be the end of it,” Sullivan said, surveying the array of boxes on Tuesday afternoon. “There might be a few more families before it’s all over.”

Each family receives toys and nonperishable goods, as well as all the trimmings for a Christmas meal.

“There is celery, eggs, butter, stuffing, all kinds of stuff,” Sullivan said. “There is everything that you need to make a turkey dinner. And I mean everything.” 

It costs the Legion about $5,000 to put together the baskets each year, but Sullivan can’t see the Post ending the yearly tradition. 

“Nobody should go hungry on Christmas, for crying out loud,” Sullivan said. 

‘Pays off in the end’

Legion members have volunteered countless hours putting together the baskets, Sullivan said, holding food drives at local grocery stores and picking up food items from across the area. 

On Sunday, the back of Robert Sullivan’s Toyota Tacoma was packed with food. 

Behind him, another pickup truck carried three large food barrels, each filled with donated food from residents in Tigard and Tualatin.

“It’s a good thing that there was another fella to pick up the barrels,” Sullivan said. “I didn’t have room for it.”

And the Legion isn’t done yet. Sullivan said volunteers will spend this week purchasing additional items that were not donated. 

Sullivan plans to pick up a pallet of 77 turkeys from a local grocer on Friday.

“It has gotten bigger every year that we’ve done it,” said Sullivan, a member of the Legion since 1999.

“There is a limit to how much we can do,” he added. “But if I could, I’d make it even bigger.”

Sullivan said the yearly Christmas donations have become a highlight of the year.

“We get a lot of enjoyment out of this,” he said. “Every once in a while, people send us letters thanking us.”

The Tigard-Tualatin School District provides a list of families in need, which make up a large portion of the basket recipients. The Legion also delivers meals to veterans living at The Knoll affordable housing complex on Hall Boulevard and other areas around town.

Sullivan said many families appear on the Post’s Christmas list year after year, and he has gotten to know some of them. 

“You see their kids grow,” Sullivan said. 

Sullivan expects members to continue the tradition for another 20 years. 

“It pays off in the end,” he said. “It’s very important to us to be able to do something for the community where we live. And the people we distribute this to really appreciate it.

“They might not have a meal without it. It’s a big deal.”

The Tigard American Legion Post 158 is located at 8635 S.W. Scoffins St.

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