Local moms help with St. Vincent de Paul's food baskets

Posted: Sunday, November 01, 2009

For experienced mother Rena Sims, 51, being a caregiver comes easy. She has fostered more than 200 children, adopted nine and is biological mother to five.

So, it's no surprise that Sims has also volunteered as chairperson for St. Vincent de Paul's holiday food basket project for the last five years.

"This is the kind of stuff that I love to do," she said. "I love giving out baskets and that sort of stuff."

This holiday season, Sims and her co-chairs, Paula Sumdum and Louise Howerter - also experienced mothers - will help collect food for the St. Vincent's Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets.

Donations for Thanksgiving are due by Nov. 19 and 20 at Smith Hall, next to St. Vincent de Paul. Baskets will be passed out from Nov. 22 to 24.

Food items needed include canned corn, canned string beans, boxed or bagged potatoes, celery, onions, Jello, pies, boxed or frozen pie crust, Kool Whip, butter, eggs, stuffing, canned or packet gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie mix, canned milk and canned fruit.

"But (donators) can distribute food donations long before that," Sims said. "And if they don't want to buy a big turkey (because we do give to some seniors), they can buy packages of sliced turkey, and that would be just great."

Last year, Sims and her team gathered more than 300 baskets on short notice with considerable help from the community, she said.

"We only had two bags of potatoes, two cases of corn, string beans, celery and a pie given to us from the Forest Service," Sims said of last year's drive. "Again, like this year, I was somewhere doing a medical crisis with a foster child and wasn't here. ... And let me tell you what happened. This community pulled together."

Major contributors to last year's crisis included Southeast Alaska Furniture, Costco, David McDonald and William Tonsgard, of Channel Construction, to name a few.

"And then there was just one lady, Rebecca, who works at Donna's Kitchen," Sims said. "She said for years she had always wanted to do this. She would take a dollar or two from every tip that was given to her, and she spent more than $2,000 in getting food."

Sims also noted that later that day, a group of ladies met her at Costco and bought everything on her list.

"The food just kept coming," Sims said. "We can't thank the community enough."

"We're a country that does get a lot of thanks, and we know how we got here," Sims said. "We just care. The community doesn't want anyone celebrating a national holiday without any food."

• Contact Neighbors Kim Andree at kim.andree@juneauempire.com.



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