Even at 89, West Milford Elks Club member Barbara Doster isn’t slowing down in her mission to make the holidays a bit brighter for local families in need.
For the last four decades, Doster has spearheaded a food collection drive that gives out food baskets to those in need in the community during the holidays.
“I do it because I love people,” Doster said at the lodge Saturday. “People are so special.”
She said that she starts letting members know and gets the word out about the drive in early November, and then collects hams, turkeys and other food products that struggling families can use through Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“It’s very gratifying,” she said. “I just can’t tell you enough how great people are.”
She said that the drive will help 26 local families, with each getting a box full of food for each holiday.
When asked what has kept her going through 40 years with the drive, Doster points to a basket delivery many years ago where a young boy’s eyes widened with delight as he saw a bag of M&Ms candy on the top of box.
“I saw his eyes light up and it made me realize what I was doing was good,” she said.
Doster, who is in charge of social and community welfare for the Elks, said she had a “troubled childhood,” and that she is happy and thankful that she can now give back.
“I thank God I have the energy to do keep doing what I am doing,” she said. “There is a need for food, and no one should be hungry on this earth.”
She said there is so much wasted food, some 40 percent, that there is no reason for anyone to be hungry.
“People need to live,” she said. “Children have to have food and encouragement to go on and lead productive lives.”
She said that people can be assured that, through organizations like the Elks, the food is going to the right people, and that they actually get it.
The community service organization started in 1868 in New York City.
Doster said the drop off in membership and participation with these community organizations over the last several years scares her.
“By having organizations, it gets people to communicate more, and learn how to cope with different situations,” she said. “This is how you get along in this world.”
As long as she has the energy, Doster said she will keep going and continue to help her neighbors as best she can.
Anyone who would like to donate non-perishable food products to the drive through Christmas can bring them to the lodge on Union Valley Road, she said.
“I thank God I have the energy to do keep doing what I am doing. There is a need for food, and no one should be hungry on this earth.” - Elks Club member Barbara Doster