The Colchester-Milton Rotary Club is requesting donations for its annual holiday food basket project, preparing for a year that may bring record participation, according to a letter from Rotarian Ron Lewis.

With donated funds, the Rotarians buy food at a discounted price from area stores and assemble the packages with small gifts, dental supplies, knit hats, gloves and mittens and books in mid-December. The baskets are delivered later that month, just before Christmas — often with some help from area fire departments.

The list of basket requests comes through the Colchester School District, who contacts potentially needy families confidentially and ask them to reach out to the Rotary Club for placement in the program, Lewis wrote.

Any families interested should make sure to quickly fill out and return the paperwork to their child’s school.

In 2016, the club served over 125 families consisting of more than 500 adults and children, Lewis said. Each basket costs about $41 to fill.

“This year, there are over 300 eligible families, and we anticipate a record year of participation,” Lewis wrote. “Despite generous donations last year, we had to dip into our reserves. The result is we [need to] dramatically increase donations.”

Now in its 41st year, the program was started by the Colchester Women’s Club and then transferred to the Malletts Bay Congregational Church before the Rotary Club picked it up some 15 years ago, according to the club.

Regular donors include Sen. Dick Mazza, Our Lady of Grace, Holy Cross and St. Andrews churches, Shadow Cross Farm and Sam Mazza.

Donations can be made via check and sent to P.O. Box 82, Colchester, VT. Checks should be made out to “Holiday Project – CM Rotary.” Donations can also be made online at