Story last updated at 1:21 p.m. Thursday, November 28, 2002

Nonprofits, others stay busy offering Thanksgiving helping hand

Many reasons to give holiday thanks

by Chris Bernard
Staff Writer

What are you thankful for?

This year, as in many past years, some Homer residents are giving thanks to local groups that have helped spread around some holiday cheer.

For about 15 years, the Kachemak Bay Lions Club has been soliciting donations for holiday food baskets to be distributed on Thanksgiving Day at the Friendship Center on Svedlund Avenue.

The baskets include a $10 gift card for a turkey or other main course, plus other foods such as rice or pasta to help extend the life of the turkey leftovers by making post-Thanksgiving soup, said Fran Van Sandt, who chairs the program.

"We also stuff them full of everything you need for a Thanksgiving meal," she said. "Bread, celery, eggs, butter, pie crust, pie mix, potatoes, onions, Jell-O, things like that."

The baskets are given out free to those who need them. Applications are available throughout town.

Last year the Lions Club handed out baskets to 72 families, and raises about $3,000 to fund them each year. Money is donated by the Emblem Club, the Elks, the American Legion, Rotary Club and various businesses and private citizens.

This year the group came up short for funding, said Van Sandt.

"We didn't get as much as we needed, but we still got about 69 baskets out to families," she said. The group also was able to help fund a Thanksgiving meal at the Shekinah Revival Center on Nelson Avenue for singles, she said.

Another local group, the nonprofit Share the Spirit, is just beginning its season of giving. With its Giving Tree and Adopt-A-Family programs, for more than 10 years Share the Spirit has been helping families who need assistance around the Christmas season.

People can donate to the cause at any of the Giving Trees, which will be up at locations around town beginning Friday, said Shari Daugherty, Christmas basket coordinator.

Those who wish to give can take an ornament from one of the trees and purchase the "wish" listed on the ornament. Wrapped gifts can then be dropped off to Share the Spirit to be given to the families who requested them.

Families in need can pick up an application for the program at either First National Bank Alaska or Wells Fargo, Daugherty said.

The Adopt-a-Family program is Share the Spirit's other means of spreading holiday cheer, she said.

"A group of people from (a business or a family) get together and adopt a family and put together all the fixings for a Christmas dinner, gifts for the children, and if the budget allows, gifts for the adults in the family," she said. "It's all anonymous, they don't know who they're adopting or who gave the gifts."

Share the Spirit has another opportunity to give, as well, at the Dec. 10 spaghetti feed at the Elks Lodge, which runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The cost is $6 per person.

Share the Spirit is seeking volunteers. For more information, call Share the Spirit at 235-7466.

The Grandma Ann's Helping Hands Program, which is run by the Anchor Point Senior Citizens Center, also is distributing food for those in need, with help from the Anchor Point Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1022.

For Homer residents who are inept in the kitchen, home alone and looking for company, or just looking for a place to spend the holiday, several options are available:

* The Anchor River Inn, on the Sterling Highway in Anchor Point, is offering a dinner from 2-6 p.m. today, with donations going to Helping Hands. Call 235-8531 for more information. The meal is free, but donations are accepted. Traditional Thanksgiving fare is on the menu.

* The Homer Elks Lodge is also offering a Thanksgiving dinner from 2-5 p.m. The meal is free for Coast Guard, military personnel and veterans. The cost for guests is $11 adults, and free for children under 6. Call 235-2127 for more information.

* St. John the Baptist Catholic Church is offering a dinner for members and guests beginning at noon.

* American Legion Post 16 has an open dinner for members, veterans, families and guests beginning at 6 p.m. Call 235-8864 for more information.

Chris Bernard can be reached at