U.S. pork producers are reaching out to those less fortunate this holiday season, bringing comfort in a time of need.

Eight Illinois pork producers recently traveled to Dallas, TX, to participate in Snowball Express, which is an organization dedicated to taking care of the children and families of fallen military heroes.

The Illinois Pork Producers Association teamed up with the Texas Pork Producers Association and the National Pork Board to provide the grills, volunteers and pork to help feed the families attending the Snowball Express event.

Traveling to Texas were Phil and Karen Borgic from Nokomis, Bob and Connie Frase from Fairbury, Brent and Kathy Scholl from Polo and Darrell and Laurie Stitzel from Shannon, and were among the 54 producer volunteers from Illinois and Texas who donated their time and talents.

The Illinois pork producer volunteers grilled pork loins and pork burger slider sandwiches for over 1,400 families at Southfork Ranch. The producers also served as volunteers at the various stations set up for the children including bounce houses, face painting, mechanical bull riding, horseback riding, archery, pony rides, petting zoo and more.

“It was a very rewarding experience to see the smiles on these children’s faces,” says Brent Scholl, Illinois Pork Producers Association president. “This is exactly what the We Care initiative is all about.”

The producers lined the driveway with flags when the families arrived and handed out pork gift bags when they departed.

“The families were very thankful for everything we did for them,” says Phil Borgic. “The children couldn’t wait to see what was in the pork gift bag we gave them at the end of the day. Most of them didn’t even make it to the bus before they discovered the coloring book, story book and other items. The parents loved that there were recipes inside, too.”

Iowa Select Farms Foundation of Iowa Falls has announced it is donating 45,000 pounds of fresh, boneless pork and 15,000 pounds of cured ham to the Food Bank of Iowa in the name of Governor-elect Terry Branstad.

The meat, valued at about $90,000, will be distributed to needy Iowans during this holiday season.

“This is an incredible display of generosity, and I want to thank Jeff and Debra Hansen of Iowa Select Farms for assisting my efforts on behalf of this charitable cause. This outpouring of kindness during the holidays will ensure needy families throughout the state will not go hungry this season,” says Branstad.

The Hansens also donated 1,700 hams to Hope Ministries of Iowa and 500 hams to various food banks throughout many of the communities Iowa Select Farms operates in.

The Hansens say these donations are a way to give back to the communities that have supported Iowa Select Farms over the years and to help those less fortunate during these difficult economic times.

Instead of exchanging gifts with each other at Christmas, staff of New Fashion Pork (NFP) at Jackson, MN, came up with the idea of becoming a “Secret Santa” to a local family in need. Money was collected from staff and NFP matched the amount.

Close to 30 employees pooled resources into a $325 pot, plus matching company funds, to purchase gifts for a family and food for the food shelf, organized by employees Ann Henning and Dawn Fredin.

The group wrapped all of the gifts during a company holiday party and they were sent to a local home via Jackson County Human Services.

“The idea was based on doing something good for the community rather than doing something in the office,” says Henning. “In general, we’ll be a Secret Santa for a family in the community with the hope of encouraging other companies around to do the same,” Henning says.