The Thanksgiving countdown has begun. Seven days from now families and friends will sit down to meals of turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and all the fixings.
For may of us, however, reality is a bit harsher. Finances are stretched. Unemployment isn’t just a statistic. Family is thousands of miles away.
The holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving, can be a stressful time. That’s where the Kachemak Bay Lions and its Thanksgiving Basket Program steps in. The number of requests for help reflect the program’s need. It also means more help is needed from the community.
“We have been doing this for 25-plus years and in the beginning, we only did 20 or so baskets and paid the bill from our fundraising. As the program grew into close to 100 (baskets), we started looking for help,” said Fran Van Sandt, who, along with Amy Shumaker, co-chairs the program.
In 2011, the food basket program provided 235 baskets for a cost of $9,000. About $7,000 of that was collected from the community.
“There are many in the community who budget this each year and I am very grateful,” said Van Sandt.
The baskets are distributed in Homer, Anchor Point and Ninilchik. They include everything needed for a traditional holiday menu and more.
“We buy food for a Thanksgiving dinner and include noodles and bread so that the turkey can be stretched further with more meals,” said Van Sandt. “We also try to give each family fruit and this is usually one piece each. Sometimes, someone will go buy bananas and we can add more.”
Turkeys are ordered through the food bank, but donations of turkeys help meet the need.
Applications for the food basket program are available at First National Bank Alaska and the Homer Community Food Pantry.
As of Nov. 8, 150 requests — equaling more than 500 individuals — for Thanksgiving baskets had been received. There are more requests for families or groups of five or more people this year than last, and Van Sandt expects the number of applications to easily reach the same number as last year.
With that in mind, Van Sandt anticipates needing:
• Canned vegetables;
• Empty egg cartons for repacking eggs for individual baskets;
• Cash donations that can be sent to Kachemak Bay Lions, P.O. Box 1824, Homer, AK 99603.
Also needed are volunteers to assemble the Thanksgiving baskets on Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Homer United Methodist Church.
Baskets can be picked up at the church between 1-2 p.m.
“Nobody will get left out,” said Van Sandt.
On Nov. 19, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10221 in Anchor Point will distribute baskets in that area of the peninsula. The VFW’s program is done in cooperation with the Lions. It is supported with donations of food and funding from the Anchor Point Senior Center, the Marine Corps League and community members, as well as the VFW, said Jennifer Henley, senior vice president of the Ladies Auxiliary.
The public also is invited to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner at the following locations. Note that the Salvation Army dinner is served on Sunday.
Caribou Family Restaurant
672 East End Road, Homer, 235-5148
A free traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be served beginning at noon and continuing until the food is gone on Nov. 22. Diners may bring a side dish, but that is not required. Donations will be accepted for the Homer Community Food Pantry.
397 East Pioneer Ave., Homer, 235-4744
A free Thanksgiving dinner will be served at 1 p.m. Nov. 22.
Homer Elks Lodge 2127
215 W. Jenny Lane, Homer, 235-2127
A traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be served from noon-3 p.m. Nov. 22 for Elks members, guests, veterans, active members of the military and their families. The cost is adults $10; children 10 and under free; honorably discharged veterans and active military are free.
126 W. Pioneer Ave., No. 1, Homer, 235-6822
A Thanksgiving potluck begins after the regular noon meeting on Nov. 22. The AA room will be open until 10 p.m.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10221
72551 Milo Fritz Avenue, Anchor Point, 235-4101
A traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be served at
3 p.m. Nov. 22. Side dishes are greatly appreciated, but there’s plenty of food for everyone.
The Salvation Army
1468 Sterling Highway, Homer, 235-2609 or 235-8923
Can’t wait until Nov. 22? Enjoy a traditional
Thanksgiving dinner at 12:30 p.m., Nov. 18.