July 3, 2008 · Updated 1:08 PM
"The spirit of holiday giving converged at one spot in Oak Harbor this week.It rolled into the storage sheds at Help House, one delivery after another, in cans, boxes and bags. There was a steady parade of turkeys, carrots, potatoes, corn, yams, butter, milk, pie crusts and more.Everything you can think of, says Help House Director Bill Nance.Volunteers hoisted the fresh food off trucks and vans as it arrived, then divvied it up into more than 600 full-blown Thanksgiving meals that were given away to lower-income island families as fast as the food could be boxed.It's an annual Whidbey Island ritual that goes back decades. And for the last 20-plus years Help House has been the agency that has organized North and Central Whidbey's holiday food give-away.Help House gives out around 1,200 turkey meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Much of the food is donated by island businesses, civic agencies and churches, families and individuals. It all converges at the agency's downtown Oak Harbor site - a literal expression of the community's holiday spirit.You see the best of people here, Nance says of working at Help House. They'll come in and give you stuff and they don't want anything in return. This community is tremendous that way.This year Help House started giving away turkeys on Nov. 17 and will continue through Wednesday. Sign-ups for Christmas meals will start Dec. 1. People must sign up to receive a Christmas turkey, which will be distributed in the week leading up to the holiday.Help House also helps organize holiday adoptions. In these instances, local civic organizations or churches take care of a lower-income family's needs during the holiday season.Help House is located at 1091 SE Hathaway St. in Oak Harbor. Hours are 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. The phone number is 675-0681. "