Three hundred and fifty turkeys, 200 pairs of socks - that's what the Glory Hole needs for the winter holidays this year. Thankfully, these needs have not gone unnoticed; numerous community members have pulled together to organize the shelter's sock and turkey drives.
"These drives are important because they provide those most in need with the most essential of items," said Glory Hole Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk. "They also are important because they provide an opportunity for community members to care about other community members in very concrete and tangible ways."
Last year the Glory Hole gave out about 350 holiday food boxes to families in need.
"We need to give out holiday boxes so that people who are experiencing a tougher economic reality right now, can have holiday dinners at home, with their families," Lovishchuk said. "These drives provide young adults with an opportunity to learn about generosity, charity, caring and civic responsibility, and they bring the participants and recipients closer together with the holiday spirit."
This year, the U.S. Coast Guard is helping collect canned goods and hams for the holiday boxes. And Karen Lawfer, a 29-year Juneau resident and frequent Glory Hole volunteer, came up with a novel idea - a Turkey Trot.
"There are many families in this town that can barely make it through the month - after rent, etc., money to buy food is often very scarce toward the end of the month," Lawfer said. "We see this often at the food pantry at Resurrection Lutheran Church. Thanksgiving will be no exception. To be able to give a family a turkey for a meal is the least we can do."
The trot, which takes place Friday at the Zach Gordon Youth Center, is a race to transport frozen turkeys along a route to Gunakadeit Park, on the corner of Franklin and Front streets.
Participants can qualify for prizes, such as Fastest Turkey, Best Legs, Biggest Breast and the Ironman - the person who comes to the park with the two biggest turkeys. There also will be door prizes and prizes for best costume, including holiday theme, patriotic, cartoon character and super hero.
"The prizes are just icing on the cake," Lawfer said. "It always makes one feel 'right with the world' when they help someone in need."
Participants can walk, drive, skate - whatever. The only requirement to win a prize is to get to the finish line between 6 and 8 p.m. with a turkey.
"And if someone would like to donate a prize we will gladly accept it," Lawfer said. "The more prizes and prize winners the better."
SOCKS and SUCH
Although turkeys seem essential for the holidays, socks are the most requested item by Glory Hole patrons, Lovishchuk said.
"(They're) one of the most essential items for those experiencing homelessness to have," she said. "Nice dry socks are essential to health and comfort. It is very easy to develop horrible foot issues, being outside all day, in a damp, cold, environment."
Luckily, Glory Hole youth ambassadors Alice Ottoson McKeen and Katherine Kane are organizing sock drives this year. And lifelong Juneau resident Betty Miller, 72, helped bring in local podiatrist Dr. Anh Lam, of Southeast Foot and Ankle Center.
"Winters are harsh in Juneau, and I know there are a lot of homeless and needy individuals who would appreciate warm and dry socks throughout the winter," Miller said.
Donation boxes are now available at the Glory Hole to receive new - and especially warm - socks for men, women and children. Lam's shop in the Mendenhall Mall, What a Foot, also will house a donation box.
"The sock drive is a fun thing to do to help out someone in need," Miller said. "I think it is a wonderful way to give back to the community."
Amidst the holiday hullabaloo, Lovishchuk hopes the Glory Hole's holiday season is warm and goes by without incidents, she said.
"Most importantly I hope my patrons feel the warmth of the community which helps them and feel included in the community," she added.
Lovishchuk also noted that the shelter's cash donations are down 25 percent from last year.
"I really hope our cash donation levels go up as people feel the holiday spirit of giving, compassion and caring," she said. "After the Glory Hole identifies the need, we try to put the idea out there. And because the Juneau community is so amazing and generous, someone usually comes along who wants to do good and has great ideas how to do it. We are so fortunate to live in such a wonderful community."
For more information on the sock drive, contact Betty Miller at 957-2907, Mia Contreras at 789-5518 or Mariya Lovishchuk at 586-4159. Any additional donations can be dropped off at the Glory Hole. Call 586-4159 with questions or visit www.feedjuneau.org.
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