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Builders make annual chicken run

"The Skagit-Island Builders Association built on its reputation for helping those in need this week with their biggest chicken contribution ever to Whidbey food banks. This is the third year in a row that association members have raised money to buy tons of frozen chicken that they then deliver to food banks in both Island and Skagit counties during the summer months. Summer is often a slow time for food contributions and meat donations are rare any time of the year, so the annual chicken run is a welcome sight to food bank administrators.This year's Chicken Challenge got an added boost when association president Jeff Hansell promised to kiss a live chicken if members raised $5,000. The offer was obviously too good to pass up because more than $7,400 was ultimately collected, resulting in the purchase of about 12,800 pounds of frozen birds. That's more than twice the amount of chicken distributed three years ago.Hansell fulfilled his promise.As in past years, Oak Harbor's Help House and Good Cheer in Langley each received a share of the chicken. Last year 2,000 pounds of donated chicken landed on the doorstep at Help House. Friday, 4,000 pounds were delivered. Another four tons were taken to Skagit County food banks.This is great, because our biggest expense is always buying meat, said Help House Director Bill Nance. When we get a load like this it goes a tremendous distance. It's like hitting the lottery.Help House adds the chicken to family food baskets distributed to qualifying low-income families twice each month. Currently Help House has more than 1,000 families on its lists. Nance estimated that the chicken should last three to four months and go into 800 food baskets for larger families. Wayne Crider, executive officer of the Skagit-Island Builder's Association, said the annual chicken donation is part of a countrywide campaign sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders to respond to needs in local communities. In addition to food drives, builders also construct homeless shelters and provide college scholarships.Nance said chicken will begin showing up in food baskets immediately.----------------------Christmas in July: Members of local service clubs will be stationed at Oak Harbor's four main grocery stores Saturday, July 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to accept contributions for Help House's summer food drive, Christmas in July. Help House will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to accept donations and collection boxes will be set up at Pony Mailing, Burger King and Whidbey Ford. There will be no door-to-door home collection this year. Help House lists canned peas, green beans, chili, pork and beans and canned fruit, peanut butter and pasta at the top of its wish list. Call 675-0681. "

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