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One of the truly inspiring aspects of living in Juneau is that, as a community, we take care of each other. We pitch in on home projects, we help out our neighbors and we make a lot of food for each other - we drop off dinner for new moms and dads, we bring a pot of soup by for someone who is ill or we simply get together to eat and celebrate. But as we drool over our turkeys and pies and gather for the holidays this year, lets challenge ourselves to take that spirit of caring a step further and make sure that everyone in Juneau has enough food to eat, especially during the holidays.
Although it can be easy to think there are only a few people in Juneau who go hungry, the reality is that there are many households that go without in Juneau. According to statistics from the Alaska Food Coalition's website, there are more than 29,400 hungry households in Alaska - families that are not able to provide their children with enough food to eat every day. The face of hunger is the face of your neighbor, or the face of a child in your child's classroom.
In Juneau alone, there are more than 400 homeless people, and many more families and households cannot afford adequate food. This year, according to an article in the Nov. 7 Empire ("Students spend night in cold to support homeless peers"), there are nearly 200 homeless children in the Juneau School District, kids who may go to class with your children but who do not have a warm home to return to after school. These are not the faces you see on the street, but these children are among those most vulnerable to starvation. Worldwide, 16,000 children die of hunger every day - in other words, one child every five seconds, according to Bread for the World.
The Glory Hole, and other non-profit organizations, are doing their best to fight hunger in Juneau. This Thanksgiving, the Glory Hole distributed more than 200 holiday food boxes to people who could not afford a holiday feast, and the Glory Hole will provide holiday food boxes again for the Christmas holidays. Other groups in Juneau, like St. Vincent de Paul and the Southeast Alaska Food Bank, also provide food for the holidays and year-round. At the Glory Hole, in addition to providing three hot meals a day for homeless people in Juneau, we provide food boxes every day, free of charge, no questions asked, no ID required, to anyone who needs food. We have provided more than 50,000 meals through food boxes and meals provided at the shelter, and more than 9,000 nights of shelter for homeless people in Juneau this year alone.
If you are hungry, please, come to the Glory Hole and request a food box Monday through Friday from 9 to 11 a.m. or from 1 to 5 p.m. For a holiday box, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 586-4159 or just stop by the Glory Hole to sign up in advance for the December distribution so that we can make sure we have enough food.
But to provide all of those meals, we need help from the caring community of Juneau. So this holiday season when you make a pie for your table, make an extra pie and drop it off at the Glory Hole so that you can share your holiday cheer with someone else who needs your help. As someone who grew up with sparse holidays many years, I know that your caring is truly appreciated by those you help.
Whether you are picking up a holiday box or dropping off a donation, thanks to everyone for celebrating the holidays with us at the Glory Hole.
Glover is a Juneau resident and a member of the Board of Directors of the Glory Hole, Juneau's emergency shelter and soup kitchen. The Glory Hole is located at 247 S. Franklin St.