Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times.
                                Sonya Wallace, left, sorts through canned goods, searching for the best place to put each item. Brad Trimmer, at right, has volunteered at North Whidbey Help House since 2012.

Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times. Sonya Wallace, left, sorts through canned goods, searching for the best place to put each item. Brad Trimmer, at right, has volunteered at North Whidbey Help House since 2012.

North Whidbey Help House aiming to fill holiday baskets with food

Gravy mix, canned sweet potatoes or yams and other special holiday non-perishables are all items North Whidbey Help House in Oak Harbor needs this time of the year, as it preparea to distribute holiday food baskets for the Christmas season, said Executive Director Jean Wieman.

So far this year, Help House distributed 5,865 food baskets to 13,559 people from January to November, which is lower than last year, Wieman said.

Thanksgiving food baskets were in high demand this year, with 410 baskets distributed, she said.

Christmas food baskets will include turkey with the trimings — cranberry sauce, broth, sweet potatoes or yams, stuffing mix and extras, such as a candy bag or baking items like flour, sugar or chocolate chips.

Help House begins distributing the Christmas food baskets next week, she said.

Around the holidays, people tend to donate more to their local food banks, which is great, Wieman said, and it gets their warehouse stocked up for the new year.

“This time of year is always good for us,” she said. “That said, people are hungry the other 365 days a year.”

They’ve recently received some great donations from local food drives, including from the Oak Harbor School District’s Key Club, Wieman said.

“It’s been a great year all the way through,” she said — they’ve received about 10,000 more items this year than last year.

Wieman said 90 percent of the budget comes from private donations.

They’re grateful for the generous nature of the community, she said.

“What a great place to live,” she said. “People take care of their neighbors in need. We couldn’t do it without the community.”

It takes many people working together to keep the food bank running, including volunteers to sort the products in their large warehouse.

Volunteer Sonya Wallace said has been volunteering at the bank for a few months in order to give back to the community,” she said.

Brad Trimmer has been volunteering for six years, partly because his wife convinced him to but also to doing something good with his time now that he’s retired, he said. Food banks are important year-round, he said.

Help House is currently accepting applications for Christmas food baskets. Applicants over the age of 18 must provide picture identification and a proof of a current physical address, because to the service area limitations of the Help House.

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