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Christmas in July food drive is Saturday

Folks who go grocery shopping in Oak Harbor this Saturday will be met at the door by some smiling faces from the Soroptimist International of Oak Harbor, the Oak Harbor Lions Club and the Venture Club of Oak Harbor.

The members of the service groups will be asking shoppers to help them celebrate Christmas in July by buying and donating items for the shelves at the Help House, the city’s 25-year-old, non-profit food bank.

The groups will be at Ennen’s, Market Place, Safeway and Albertson’s.

Help House Executive Director Bill Nance said the Christmas in July annual food drive is “a shot in the arm to carry us through to the holidays.” The summer months are notoriously low-donation months because people are busy playing in the sun or off vacationing in the Ozarks or wherever.

Becky King, who is both a member of the Soroptimist and the Help House board of directors, said the volunteers will hand the shoppers a slip of paper with a list of the food items the Help House needs. They will ask the shoppers to buy some of the items and donate them on the way to their cars.

In support of the food drive, the Oak Harbor City Council ratified a proclamation last week that proclaims July 13 as Christmas in July Day.

The Christmas in July food drive was started by the Soroptimists 12 years ago. Originally it was a door-to-door canvassing of neighborhoods, which King said was “a logistical nightmare.”

Two years ago, Nance said they took a cue from the Lions Club and gave up on the door-to-door solicitation in favor of the grocery store effort.

It has worked great.

“Now we get what we need and it takes a quarter of the people to pull it off,” Nance said. “Plus, everything we get is new. We don’t get a ten-year-old can of sauerkraut.”

This year, the list of items the Help House needs includes pasta, peanut butter and a lot of canned food, including green peas, green beans, chili, fruit, pork and beans, tuna and corn.

On the following Saturday, July 20, the employees from Alaska Federal Credit Union will be celebrating Christmas in July once again. The employees will be asking for food donations in front of Albertson’s.

You can reach Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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