(T-G Photo by Tracy Simmons) [Order this photo]
It was a scene which was carried out in 40 doorways Monday morning as members and guests of the Loyal Order of the Moose and Women of the Moose fell into a well-established Christmas Eve routine.
The tradition has been carried on for 44 years now, and the members have the process of collecting and distributing toys, bicycles, food and pantry items down to a fine science.
A line of vehicles moved quickly through the distribution line despite light rain, filling them at one stop with toys and bikes, another with food items.
Karen Marcotte, who serves as senior regent of the lodge chapter, pointed out a volunteer who had returned to pay it forward, "We provided assistance to her family four years ago, and she's here to help."
It's the third year to make deliveries for Michael Bates and his daughter Alicia. "It's a great way to help someone else," he said, recalling the reaction of an elderly lady who had several grandchildren in her care last year. "She just broke down in tears, she was so grateful."
"Lots of people need help at one time or another," said Marlene Edmonds of Michigan, visiting her brother Michael for the holiday. "I was like Michelle at one time, and someone helped me. I've never forgotten it."
For each of the 27 families with children served, each child received a box of 10-15 unwrapped toys, gifts for each member of the house, and diapers for any infants.
"It is by far the most rewarding project we do all year," said Marcotte. "Christmas is very special to us -- after all, we are a children's charity organization."
Donations from lodge members, and local sponsors are key to the success of the event. This year's sponsors included Tyson Foods, Walmart, AmVets, Eagles Day Care, Christie Cookies, Brads Market and the Shelbyville Golden Eaglettes.
The Moose Lodge also holds several open-to-the-public events during the year including turkey (and ham) shoots near Easter and Halloween, a barbecue cook-off in May, a golf tournament in June, and Veterans Day celebrations in November.