Thanksgiving in March will help feed needy for one year

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2003

A $1,000 legislator-made apple pie and two $2,000 dinners with the Murkowskis at the governor's mansion were among the top money-makers at this year's "Thanksgiving in March" fund-raiser for the Southeast Alaska Food Bank, held March 29 at the Elk's Lodge.

"The legislators have really just bent over backwards to help us raise money for this, and it's wonderful," said Thyes Shaub, finance chairwoman for the food bank's board of directors.

The event raised more than $41,000 for the food bank - more than twice what it raised in 2000, the first year it was held, Shaub said.

"I don't know what happened this year," Shaub said. "The stars were aligned. Everybody was in a good mood. It was just so much fun and people were very generous."

Though the food bank has some smaller fund-raising events throughout the year, Thanksgiving in March is the organization's major source of income. The event is the brainchild of Shaub and former Kenai Peninsula Sen. John Torgerson.

"It started three years ago when I became chairman of finance for the board," Shaub said. "We were major in the hole. ... It was to the point where we were considering closing the whole thing."

The Southeast Alaska Food Bank provides food to 32 member agencies that distribute goods directly to families in need, youths, the mentally ill, victims of spousal abuse and the elderly, Shaub said. She met with Torgerson to discuss the gravity of the issue, and he suggested holding a large fund-raising event.

Thirty-one legislators attended the event and did everything from cooking the traditional Thanksgiving meal to serving it to cleaning up and washing dishes. They also donated 21 pies for an auction that netted $6,380.

Two auctions - one silent and one live - for items such as cruises, flightseeing tours and airline tickets, raised more than $19,000, and two raffles for airline tickets and a cruise brought in $3,000. Finally, money was raised by the $50 tickets for the meal.

Many businesses and organizations, including the Elks Club, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, contributed money and prizes. The Alaska Travel Industry Association decorated the Elks Lodge for the event.

Juneau Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch and Anchorage Sen. Ben Stevens were the legislative chairmen for the event, and Torgerson came to Juneau from Kenai to help prepare the meal.

Other major contributors to the event were Alaska Airlines, Alaska Electric Light & Power, Alaska Seafood Co., Alaska Travel Adventures, Allen Marine, ATIA Juneau, Altman Rogers, BP Exploration, Catholic Community Service, Cruise West, Kent Dawson, DIPAC, Bob Evans, Paul Fuhs, Norm Gorsuch, the Juneau Empire, Sam Kito, Dr. Alex Malter, Marathon Oil Co., Sears Roebuck and Co., Shaub, Taku Glacier Lodge, Teamsters Local 959, TEMSCO, VECO, Chip Wagoner, Race Realty, Dr. Nell Wagoner, Wells Fargo, Westmark Hotels, Williams Petroleum, Wings Airways and Wings of Alaska.

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