The Miami Elks Lodge began delivering Christmas to many Ottawa County families at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

The Lodge’s “elves” began packaging Christmas baskets Tuesday evening in preparation for Wednesday’s deliveries.

“At 6 a.m. we were at Wal-Mart picking up all of the perishable items for the baskets,” member Debbie Glassman said.

With cooperation from area organizations, businesses and individuals, the Elks were able to provide Christmas to 50 families.

“The number of families we help each year has actually gone down,” Glassman said. “We used to provide for over 200 families.”

The need has not decreased.

According to Glassman, 20 years ago when the Elks revived a tradition of collecting food and gift items for area families, it was the only program of its kind.

“Then the Department of Human Services began helping families in need and several churches and organizations followed,” Glassman said.

Glassman said lodge members are grateful to the community for the support of this program.

“We are able to provide three meals for each family and gifts for the family’s with children,” said Glassman.