By Neil Watkins
“Hero” is a powerful word. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “hero” as a “brave and noble person.” We hear in the news every day about heroes in our Armed Forces, heroes doing philanthropic work around the world, heroes among our police and fire departments, and citizens who do amazing, heroic things to save others.
Over the next couple of weeks, I want to tell you about two Monroe citizens who have met every definition of hero without you hearing much about their efforts…very special people who have done very special work for those in need within our community.
Let me tell you about Diane Wilton.
On September 26th, Monroe lost a very special hero when Diane passed away. For over a decade, Diane was the driving force behind the hundreds of Christmas stockings we distribute to the children of our food bank clients each year. Diane would begin in January to buy, at her own expense, stockings, toys, candy and other gifts for the coming Christmas. She then gathered friends and organized “stuffing” parties where the stockings were filled to the brim and segregated by age and gender.
Then, at some point the week before we began our holiday distribution, a large truck (sometimes more than one truck) would pull up to our warehouse, and Diane would supervise the unloading of the boxes of stockings and then organize them in our toy room for easy distribution. Then, during our holiday distribution, Diane would be here at the food bank from beginning to end to assist in giving out the stockings, and to greet each family with a smile and the warmest of holiday happiness!
Diane was asked many times why she undertook this enormous task every year. She would always answer the same, “Look in the eyes of those we help…there is such gratitude, such happiness…what better reason could there be?”
In her honor, the food bank plans to continue the tradition of stockings for every child. This year, the Food Bank Board of Directors will be stuffing the stockings with toys purchased in large part through donations from Diane’s family and friends. We are hoping to continue our stocking tradition (with support from the community) for many years to come!
In a couple of weeks I will tell you about another “hero”… a very special 9-year old-girl who puts toys for others before all else during the holiday season.
During this holiday season, the Sky Valley Food Bank looks to our community for extra help so that all of our citizens have enough food, all of our children have at least one special gift, and all of our families can sit down to a celebration meal. Please give what you can…food, toys or a monetary donation to the Sky Valley Food Bank, P.O. Box 724, 233 Sky River Pkwy., Monroe, WA 98272. (360) 794-7959.
Neil Watkins is the director of the Sky Valley Food Bank