Donation blizzard hits Help House

Help House employee Tim Noe sorts Christmas in July food donations in the Help House warehouse in Oak Harbor.  - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Help House employee Tim Noe sorts Christmas in July food donations in the Help House warehouse in Oak Harbor.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

A blizzard of monetary donations fluttered into North Whidbey Help House over the weekend easing worries over a decline in food donations.

“It’s a great wave that we’re on, but it too will pass,” predicts Jean Wieman, Help House director.

The Christmas in July drive collected 2,013 food items and $5,200 thanks to the generosity of donors and volunteers, who contributed 64 hours of their time last Saturday to make the drive and open house barbecue a success.

One gentleman hand-delivered a $4,000 check, care of a deceased family member’s estate, according to Wieman.

“He grabbed my hand, gave it a squeeze and said, ‘I hope you put this to good use.’ And then he walked out the door,” Wieman said.

Earlier this summer Help House received another big surprise: an anonymous cashiers check arrived from a Coupeville P.O. Box address, also in the amount of $4,000.

“It was a total shock,” she said. There was no name attached to the donation.

Despite the economy, donations are up for the year, she said. At the same time, the community’s hunger is ever-increasing.

“The need is growing,” she said. “We’ve had a 17 percent increase in requests for assistance over the last year.”

According to the food bank’s monthly tallies, need began to rise back in July 2008 and has continued a steady upward trend ever since.

Wieman worries that donations at the ever-popular North Whidbey food bank may level off as a result of the economy.

“There are people who used to give $100 who are now saying, ‘Sorry I can only give $50,’” Wieman said. “Any level of donation is a blessing.”

The next big food-raising event will take place Sunday, August 9 during the Fidalgo Avenue Block Party and Pig Roast. Proceeds from the event will be split between the Help House and Island County Red Cross.

“Next, we’ll start on Thanksgiving baskets,” Wieman said.

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