Despite record rainfall, Juneau residents have a lot to be thankful for this week.
"With all this rain I think we should all be thankful for a warm, dry place to have a Thanksgiving dinner," said Jetta Whittaker, executive director of the Glory Hole.
Juneau nonprofit groups and businesses have been busy this week putting the final touches on Thanksgiving preparations for the city's less fortunate. Pies have been made, turkeys have been donated and schedules have been rearranged to make sure every resident has the chance to at least be thankful for a pleasant meal on Thursday.
The Glory Hole has been busy passing out turkey dinner boxes the last couple of days. Whittaker said the shelter on Monday gave away about 40 boxes containing entire Thanksgiving meals. Another 40 or so boxes went out on Tuesday. She said she expects to give out another 60 to 80 boxes today, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the shelter.
"We're very blessed with all the donations that have come in from the community to help support this Thanksgiving Food Box program. It's been incredible," Whittaker said.
St. Vincent de Paul's has also been busy collecting donations and passing out turkey dinner boxes. The nonprofit organization gave away about 160 boxes on Monday, with some donations still coming in Tuesday afternoon, said Stan Marston, assistant to the general manager.
"As fast as we're getting them in we're giving them out," Marston said. "We had everything form the turkey to the pumpkin pie."
Marston said he thinks there is a greater need of assistance this year.
"My guess is that gas prices, fuel prices, you know, everything has just gone through the roof. People just can't afford it," he said.
For those who might not have the ability or the resources to cook a Thanksgiving meal for themselves or their family, there will be three free public dinner opportunities Thursday. The Salvation Army and Hangar on the Wharf are teaming up for the annual dinner at the restaurant from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jovany's Italian restaurant in the Mendenhall Valley also will serve a full turkey dinner with all the fixings from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Grandmas Inc. will sponsor a full dinner beginning at 3 p.m. at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. For those who might not have had their fill, the Glory Hole will serve turkey sandwiches at 6 p.m., from leftovers.
For community members looking to support local education while lightening their duties in the kitchen, the Juneau Co-op Preschool will have a pie sale today from 4 to 6 p.m. at Alaskan & Proud market.
Reecia Wilson, president of the Hangar on the Wharf, said the restaurant is expecting 300 to 400 people for dinner Thursday.
"It's a pretty traditional turkey dinner," she said. "There's turkey and stuffing and gravy and mashed potatoes," as well as vegetables, bread and pies.
In the dinner's eighth year, Wilson said the owners and staff members are thrilled to be in a position to give back to the community.
"The great thing about this program is that the first couple of years it was a huge challenge, but it's becoming a little easier to pull off because we get the same volunteers every year and they know what they're doing."
Maj. Joe Huttenlocker of the Salvation Army said Thanksgiving isn't the only day people should be thankful and give what they can to charity.
"There's always difficulty in the world and if we let that difficulty be the overriding factor of living one day to the next then we're not going to do too well," he said. "There are many blessings and a lot to be thankful for."
Eric Morrison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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