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A happy Thanksgiving for local charities flush with food

Glory Hole, St. Vincent de Paul thank community for food drive support

Posted: November 20, 2012 - 1:02am
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George Bell, left, shakes hands with Jason Benford after receiving the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner at the Glory Hole on Monday.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
George Bell, left, shakes hands with Jason Benford after receiving the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner at the Glory Hole on Monday.

Juneau charities that only one week ago were looking at meager stocks of Thanksgiving food now report they are flush with feast fare. Leaders at the Glory Hole shelter and the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s Thanksgiving basket volunteer drive said Monday that the community has come to the rescue.

Glory Hole Executive Director Mariya S. Lovishchuk said the soup kitchen and shelter downtown has received some 300 turkeys in one week and will “definitely” have plenty of food for its Thanksgiving dinner boxes, which go out every year to local families in need.

“We are totally good on food,” said Lovishchuk, who was expressing concern just last Monday over how much food the Glory Hole needed (http://bit.ly/TJBE93).

The situation was much the same for St. Vincent de Paul’s “turkey drive,” according to Rena Sims, one of the lead volunteers.

“I’m thinking I’ve got enough food for everybody,” Sims said. “When we started out, we were hesitant.”

Sims said last Wednesday that she was “a little scared” by how little food the drive had brought in by that point, but expressed optimism that donors in the community would pull through (http://bit.ly/T7SJZL).

Pull through they did. Sims singled out David McDowell and Myra Munson for particular thanks, but praised everyone who donated. She also thanked Alaska Pacific Bank and Channel Construction Inc. among companies that have supported the turkey drive.

“It just brought so much joy and tears to us,” said Sims, who has run the turkey drive alongside Louise Wertheimer and Paula Sumdum for a decade now (http://bit.ly/UH51HS). “This community is fabulous, the entire community. You know, we have so many people that give from their hearts.”

Sims said her group is giving away more than 500 dinner baskets this Thanksgiving, loaded up with either a turkey or ham, green beans, corn, pumpkin pie, stuffing, rolls, iced tea, gravy, cranberry sauce, marshmallows, olives and more.

“Our Thanksgiving is going fabulous,” Sims said happily. “This is probably one of the better Thanksgivings we’ve had.”

Lovishchuk echoed Sims’ assessment, remarking, “This is a great Thanksgiving. I think this is definitely the best year we’ve ever seen.”

Both Lovishchuk and Sims reported some extraordinary acts of giving.

“It’s really amazing,” said Lovishchuk. “I was at the Safeway the other day and I was actually buying turkeys, because we needed some small turkeys for the senior citizens, and I had $530 worth of turkeys in my basket, and as I was about ready to swipe (my card) … some amazing, wonderful woman just paid for all the turkeys.”

McDowell donated 240 turkeys for the Thanksgiving baskets at St. Vincent de Paul, Sims said.

“He jump-started us,” said Sims. “And then the community made up the rest of the turkeys, which was over 400 turkeys.”

Meanwhile, Sims added, Munson “picked up … all my sides, mainly, and my pies.”

Sims also acknowledged the help of community volunteers, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in putting together the baskets.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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