Christmas arrives Saturday for North Whidbey’s hungry

It’s Christmas for Island County residents who need help putting food on the table.

Saturday, July 18, is the annual “Christmas in July” event to benefit the North Whidbey Help House food bank. Volunteers will be stationed outside Oak Harbor grocery stores and Wal-Mart to accept food and monetary donations from the public.

Jean Wieman, Help House director, said demand is high for food in this down economy. Through June this year, the food bank distributed 2,922 boxes of food, compared to 2,661 the year before. In terms of people fed, the total was 7,062 through June, up from 6,177 in 2008.

Wieman thanked Soroptimist International of Oak Harbor for again sponsoring the Christmas in July Food and Fund Drive.

“As the weather gets nicer and kids are out of school, people get busy with many activities,” Wieman said. “Unfortunately, this affects the food and monetary donations that come into the food bank.”

Christmas in July was developed over 17 years ago to keep the warehouse at Help House stocked and monetary donations steady during this period.

“With over 80 percent of our operating budget coming from private donations, we depend on events like Christmas in July to continue providing food to the hungry in our community,” Wieman said.

On July 18, volunteers from various civic and military organizations will be staged at the local grocery stores and Wal-Mart handing out flyers to customers and asking them to pick up one or more of the food items on the list.

The event culminates that same day with a community appreciation event at Help House in Oak Harbor, from 2 to 6 p.m. for an open house and barbecue. Have a hot dog or hamburger then take a tour of the facility to see how your local food bank works.

The goal this year is to gather 6,000 pounds of food and collect $10,000 in cash.

You can drop off donations at Help House, 1091 SE Hathaway St., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or call 675-0681.

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