Packing on the pounds

Ryan Fakkema and Kate Kapitonova advertise the food drive outside Safeway, withstanding freezing temperatures. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Ryan Fakkema and Kate Kapitonova advertise the food drive outside Safeway, withstanding freezing temperatures.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

Most people resolve to loose weight in January, but the North Whidbey Help House is packing on the pounds.

Members of the Interfaith Coalition of Whidbey Island braved 30-degree temperatures Saturday while collecting food donations.

The team ultimately added 5,600 pounds of pantry staples, in addition to $660, to the Help House warehouse by day’s end, Jean Wieman, Help House executive director, said.

A 40-foot trailer on loan from Whidbey Moving, parked at the old Ford lot on the corner of Highway 20 and Pioneer Way, served as operation headquarters.

When volunteers first arrived at 8 a.m. several bags of donations were already waiting next to the big blue trailer, and a steady stream of eatables continued to flow in throughout the day.

“I lost all track of time,” Wieman, said.

While volunteers boxed and stacked donations at the Ford lot, others stood in front of Wal-Mart, Albertons, Safeway and Saar’s Market Place holding signs and distributing fliers to advertise the drive.

At 4 p.m., volunteers towed the trailer from the highway to Help House where twenty-one volunteers turned the unloading process into a time-test.

“It took all day to get what we got, and only nine minutes to offload it from the truck.”

Help House staff and volunteers could hardly believe their eyes Monday morning, Wieman said.

“The warehouse is fuller than we’ve seen it in a couple of years,” she said. “For a first time event, they did a pretty darn good job.”

The need for nutritional assistance from the Help House dramatically increased this year. According to Wieman, the food bank distributed 815 more food baskets in 2008 than it did the year before.

“That’s enough to feed 2,300 additional people,” she said.

Oak Harbor City Council honored the organization’s efforts by proclaiming Jan. 24 as “Interfaith Coalition of Whidbey Island Food Drive Day.”

The ICW is a partnership of community congregations who work together to provide basic necessities to local people in need. Past projects include the collection of school supplies and coats for island pupils.

Hap Fakkema said the IWC plans to make the food drive a biannual event. The next drive will take place on sometime this summer.

“By combining resources and working together with local agencies, we can have a greater impact in addressing housing, health care and other needs than any one congregation can do alone,” according to their vision statement.

For more information on the IWC, visit, or call Hap Fakkema at 360-675-0759.

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