Charities still seek holiday donations

About 150 families signed up to receive Thanksgiving dinner

Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The number of needy people is up at the Glory Hole homeless shelter and Thanksgiving donations are down at St. Vincent de Paul.

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As of Monday, the Glory Hole homeless shelter had roughly 150 families signed up to receive its annual turkey dinner donations, employee Stephen Leonard said.

"Our list is unbelievable right now," Leonard said. "That's more than average right now."

Leonard doesn't have exact numbers for past years, but in 2005, for instance, the Glory Hole had 140 to 160 families on its list for turkey boxes the day before Thanksgiving.

Each food box given away feeds an average of four to six people, Leonard said.

To donate:

• Call Southeast Alaska Food Bank: 789-6184.

• St. Vincent de Paul: 789-5535.

• Glory Hole: 586-4159.

• United Way of Southeast Alaska: 463-5530.

The shelter is expecting more people to sign up, meaning more donations would be useful, he said.

"We're doing OK, but every little bit counts," Leonard said.

Donations seem to be down this year for social services agency St. Vincent de Paul, general manager Dan Austin said.

For its annual Thanksgiving giveaway, the organization planned to donate 200 food boxes. As of Monday, however, it looks like the number might be closer to 150 boxes this year, Austin said.

"We're hoping and praying that another 50 people will step up to the plate," he said.

Each box of food, which includes a turkey dinner and numerous side dishes, costs about $25, Austin said.

Any "glitch in the economy" usually means fewer goods and services for the people most in need, Austin said.

"In my 10 years in this position in this community, one thing I've learned to count on is the number of needy people increases," he said. "As generous as the community is, we get further behind here every year when it comes to caring for the most vulnerable."

Southeast Alaska Food Bank manager Darren Adams said the community has been particularly generous with food drives this fall. Two food drives in October alone netted nearly 3 tons of nonperishable goods. Much of the donated food will be given away during the holiday season by the dozens of agencies the food bank is comprised of, he said.

"In a perfect world there would be no need for this food, but every little bit of food helps," Adams said.

There are many ways people can donate or lend a hand during the upcoming holiday season, Leonard said. From basic food, such as rice or canned goods, to clothes or toys, everything is appreciated, he said.

"Anything that people would like to deliver is a good thing," Leonard said.

Donations of sleeping bags and blankets to the Glory Hole also would be greatly appreciated because there are people sleeping outdoors this time of year, he said.

"They do because there is not enough facilities here," Leonard said. "We house quite a few, but there's just not enough for the amount of homeless people here in Juneau."

Leonard said there appears to be more homeless people in town now than he can recall in his 10 years working on and off at the shelter.

"There's an influx right now of people coming to Alaska hoping to find good work," he said. "But it's really hard. ... That's why we have a lot of homeless people here, because there is no place to rent."

There are many organizations in town where people can donate goods or services, Austin said.

The U.S. Coast Guard has kicked off its annual blanket, coat and new toy drive for Southeast Alaska. Collection bins have been placed at businesses throughout the community until Dec. 3 for "gently used" coats, blankets and new toys, which will be sent to neighboring villages in time for Christmas.

• Contact Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or

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