Help House annual food drive Saturday

The days might be long and the weather warm, but Christmas spirit is nearly as high as it would be in December at the North Whidbey Help House.

The food bank’s annual Christmas in July food drive goes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, Saturday July 14. Volunteers will be standing outside Walmart, Haggen Food, Safeway and Saar’s Super Saver Foods collecting food and money donations.

“We’re out of certain items,” said Help House Executive Director Jean Wieman.

The annual event began as a way to boost donations in the summer, which tends to be much slower than during the holiday months. The food bank is out of items such as mac and cheese, beans and canned dinners— such as ravioli, stew and chili.

Wieman said the group is always looking for fresh fruit and vegetables donations, since that is something that can be particularly expensive.

“We’re always happy to get produce if people have extra in their gardens,” she said.

The drive outside of grocery stores will only last one day, but other types of fundraising and collection efforts will be happening throughout the month.

For every oil change performed at Martin’s Auto Electric in July, $1 will be donated to the food bank, Wieman said.

Departments within the City of Oak Harbor are doing an internal competition to collect the most food.

So far this year, the food bank distributed 2,878 food baskets to feed more than 6,000 people, Wieman said.

There are fewer people going to the Help House than in years past, she said. Its number of clients decreased steadily for the last three years, and is down approximately 8 percent from last year.

“We hope that means people got jobs and are doing better now,” she said.

The food bank will be holding an open house barbecue from 2 to 4 p.m. today for people to see what it does and who it serves.

“We’ve been around 41 years,” Wieman said, “and couldn’t have done it without the community.”

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