Mac vineyard donates 75 turkeys to local food bank
By George Robertson
Correspondent, The Sun
Hundreds of Yamhill County children and their families will have a brighter Christmas this year thanks to the efforts of one of Santa’s favorite helpers.
This energetic elf is Linda Lindsay, co-owner of Stone Wolf Vineyards in McMinnville.
Although she is in charge of spreading holiday goodwill, Lindsay prefers to work behind the scenes and give credit to her company’s crew and others who collect toys, food and clothing for area families in need.
She started her mission 13 years ago when she moved from Tigard to McMinnville after reading a newspaper article that reported there weren’t enough turkeys at the Amity food bank for Christmas so some families were going to be given “potted meats” instead.
“I said ‘no!’ I didn’t know these people but I knew they were going to get a turkey. We gave out four or five cases of turkeys that year,” Lindsay recalled. “I later got to know the people at the food bank and the next year we took over the entire Christmas project.”
Lindsay’s team has also made an impact in the West Valley, donating 75 turkeys last Christmas to the Sheridan food bank. They plan to do the same this year and also give 25 turkeys to the Free Methodist Church in Willamina. Thanks to some anonymous cash donations, they also help stock the shelves at food pantries in Dayton and Lafayette plus provide holiday treats to the Veterans of Foreign War post in Willamina and the American Legion in McMinnville.
Because of the tough economy with more people out of work and government programs for the needy being slashed, Santa’s elves have had more work than ever this year. Lindsay plans to hand out food, toys and clothes to more than 825 families this year, up from 700 last year. This year’s donations will help about 4,000 individuals.
Lindsay also offered to help the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office reach its toy collection goals this year after learning that the agency was going to have to stop accepting names earlier this month.
She credits her six-person staff for pitching in and turning the winery into one of Santa’s biggest workshops.
“We have really good people on our team and they’re having a blast!” she said.
Lindsay also thanks those who have donated cash and supplies. “Last year, one family who asked to be anonymous donated a substantial amount of money to help with the food. We introduced them to the food banks.
They (the food banks) were not meeting their budgets for the year so donations now are going directly to the food banks.”
Although she works with many individuals and organizations, Lindsay said she doesn’t want to partner with anyone for her Christmas work. But she would like her work to become an example for others to follow.
“If there’s a message I’d like to get out it’s this: everyone can look to see what they can do themselves and who they can help. If 1,000 did this it would make a difference.”
Her team has been collecting winter clothing for months to hand out at Christmas.
“We have jackets, hats, scarves and coats. They can pick them up Thursday from noon 6 p.m. at our tasting room (2155 NE Lafayette Ave., McMinnville.) They can also pick up toys and food at our place at that time. We’ll take the moms or grandparents into our back room to pick up the toys and clothes and then put them in a bag so the kids can’t see them. Santa can bring them on Christmas.”
Christmas food baskets assembled by Lindsay’s team will be distributed Thursday at Sheridan High School from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Area residents were asked to return forms to the Sheridan food bank by Dec. 15 to receive a basket.
Members of the Willamina High School FFA have also been collecting food for Christmas, working with high school students throughout the county. “Roy Whitman and his kids do a great job every year for us,” Lindsay said.
A group of students from Linfield College in McMinnville also volunteer their time and muscles to haul donated items into storage for the Christmas giveaways.
Area businesses have also pitched in. The McMinnville Roth’s market provides all the food at wholesale and Salem’s NW Distribution donates a semi-truck and driver.
Lindsay has also been able to get donations from some national toy companies, including Hasboro, Mattel and Nerf. “We also got 25 bicycles that are sitting right now in the middle of the winery.”
A native of Portland, Lindsay said she acquired her strong desire to help others when she was a young girl and attended Catholic school. “I had those nuns for the first 10 years of school,” she said with a laugh. “I guess I’m making up for all those nasty things I did.”
Her mother, now in her 80s, also gave her a lesson or two in the values of helping others. She still volunteers at the Portland Convention Center, Lindsay said.
Lindsay’s husband, Art, also gets involved in the Christmas activities. He retired in June as a timber broker for Buckeye Pacific and has since started his own company, Lindsay Northwest Forest Products.
Lindsay credits her husband’s decision to help a local family as one of the reasons why she got involved back in 1998. “He saw they needed help and he just did it,” she recalled.
Lindsay and her husband bring the same enthusiasm for helping people to their work at the winery.
Although Stone Wolf keeps a low profile it is one of the top producing wineries in the Willamette Valley, Lindsay said. “We bottled 35,000 cases in 2011. That puts us up there somewhere in the top 10.”
The company produces the prestigious Pinot Noir wine from grapes grown on the family’s 40-acre hilltop spread west of McMinnville but most of the grapes come from other vineyards in Oregon and Washington state.
Stone Wolf recently started bottling a less expensive wine under the Rascal label that has proven to be very popular.
Stone Wolf’s promotional material, found on the company’s website, offers another clue about the Lindsays and their values. “Like children, some lots (of wine) are capricious and require extra attention, while others grow in just the right direction with nothing more than a gentle nudge from time to time.”
Linda also enjoys playing up the winery’s name. She calls herself “Momma Wolf” and refers to her husband as “Pappa Wolf.”
The company’s website also offers this advice: “If you let the magic of the Stone Wolf fable grace you with its spirit and strength, we believe you will discover the magic of the crop he safeguards.”
The magic of the wolf combined with the spirit of Christmas will put a lot of smiles on children’s faces this holiday season.