Joe Pagenkopf counts bags of food in a shopping cart at the St. Vincent de Paul Juneau complex on Saturday morning before heading out to deliver Thanksgiving food baskets to local residents. He said it is his first time making such deliveries, which he was motivated to get after getting help when his home was nearly destroyed by the record flooding of Suicide Basin earlier this year. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Joe Pagenkopf counts bags of food in a shopping cart at the St. Vincent de Paul Juneau complex on Saturday morning before heading out to deliver Thanksgiving food baskets to local residents. He said it is his first time making such deliveries, which he was motivated to get after getting help when his home was nearly destroyed by the record flooding of Suicide Basin earlier this year. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Community Thanksgiving celebrations get a ‘plus-one’ invite this year

Friendsgiving in Douglas joins meal at Salvation Army, food distributions by SVDP and food bank.

Joe Pagenkopf said the fact he’s able to have a traditional Thanksgiving at his house is more than enough reason to be thankful — and motivate him to make an extra effort so others can celebrate heartily as well.

“We have been part of the jökulhlaup gang,” he said, noting his house was almost destroyed by record flooding from Suicide Basin in early August. But thanks to “lots of friends just pitching in” he will be spending the holiday this Thursday at home.

On Saturday morning Pagenkopf was among the dozens of volunteers delivering Thanksgiving food baskets to residents throughout Juneau as part of the annual distribution program by St. Vincent de Paul Juneau. It’s among several local events intended for locals who might not otherwise have the food or companions to celebrate the holiday with.

This is the first time Pagenkopf is participating in the distribution and he said the help he got from others in the past few months caused him to sign up.

Also making deliveries in Juneau for the first time Saturday was Caroline Allen, who moved here recently from North Carolina, but she said it’s part of a tradition she is long familiar with.

“I did it with my dad growing up in North Carolina,” she said.

SVDP Juneau is planning to distribute about 400 baskets based on expected requests, said Dave Ringle, executive director of the local chapter. The work will continue past Saturday’s scheduled deliveries since some people aren’t at home when volunteers arrive and last-minute requests for baskets are common.

“I delivered baskets as late as 7:30 Wednesday night,” Ringle said, referring to last year’s distribution.

Ringle said donations to SVDP for the food drive were similar to past years, as well as for a winter clothing drive SVDP’s local free clothing store is conducting.

Sophia Beedle eats inmate rations while waiting for donors to raise her “bail” during the Southeast Alaska Food Bank’s Caring is Sharing Food Drive at Foodland IGA on Saturday. The food bank distributed hundreds of hams and other food to about 400 people the Thursday before Thanksgiving, according to board president Jeremiah Beedle. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Sophia Beedle eats inmate rations while waiting for donors to raise her “bail” during the Southeast Alaska Food Bank’s Caring is Sharing Food Drive at Foodland IGA on Saturday. The food bank distributed hundreds of hams and other food to about 400 people the Thursday before Thanksgiving, according to board president Jeremiah Beedle. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Donations for food were also being collected Saturday at Juneau’s two IGA supermarkets by the Southeast Alaska Food Bank for its annual Caring is Sharing Food Drive. Jeremiah Beedle, who as chair of the food bank’s board was helping at the Foodland IGA, said as of 2 p.m. a total of 5,275 pounds of food had been collected for the drive scheduled between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The food bank also distributed several hundred donated hams to about 400 people during its weekly food pantry the Thursday before Thanksgiving, he said.

“We tried to hand out a ham to everyone that was there,” he said.

The food bank also operates as a distributor to food pantries throughout Juneau, some of which have their own distribution events planned before Thanksgiving.

Midday and evening communal meals on Thanksgiving

In addition to efforts to ensure people in need have the makings of a proper Thanksgiving feast, two free events featuring meals and music are scheduled during the holiday.

The first is the annual traditional meal hosted by The Salvation Army Juneau Corps, scheduled this year from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Juneau Yacht Club, with about 500 meals expected to be served, said Gina Halverson, co-leader of The Salvation Army’s local corps.

This year’s guest of honor invited to slice the first turkey is Dick Hand, owner of Alaska Seafood Co, whose longtime involvement with the event includes smoking dozens of turkeys for the feast.

“He has helped cook those turkeys since the day they started doing the community Thanksgiving dinner,” Havlerson said.

Restaurants in town are also donating other foods being served, she said. Live music will also be featured, although by whom is still being confirmed.

Bruce Botelho, left, and Cathy Munoz serve dinners-to-order during The Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving meal at the Juneau Yacht Club on Nov. 24, 2022. The yacht club is again hosting this year’s meal, which is expected to feed about 500 people. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Bruce Botelho, left, and Cathy Munoz serve dinners-to-order during The Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving meal at the Juneau Yacht Club on Nov. 24, 2022. The yacht club is again hosting this year’s meal, which is expected to feed about 500 people. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

New this year is The Salvation Army will provide a shuttle bus from its church on Willoughby Street, near Foodland IGA, to the yacht club more than a mile away at the north end of Aurora Basin Boat Harbor. Last year was the first time the yacht club was used for the event and some attendees without a vehicle and/or experiencing homelessness were forced to make a long walk.

“That was actually something that some a lot of people were like ‘we really need this,’” Havlerson said, adding both a driver and bus were donated for the event.

She said sufficient donations, along with volunteers to help prepare and serve the meal this year, are a blessing. But she noted people interested in helping can still sign up since “we still need a cleanup crew of volunteers.”

The midday communal meal at the yacht club will be followed that evening by a new community gathering of a different sort. Drew Hammond, who recently moved to Juneau from Hawaii where he owned a venue for concerts and other events, is organizing a Friendsgiving gathering from 4-8 p.m. Thursday at the log cabin at Savikko Park.

“Because I didn’t know anybody in Hawaii one of the events I did was a Friendsgiving,” he said, referring to his venue. “And it turned out to be like a very large, successful time. And I got to meet so many people.”

Hammond, now working as a manager at SEARHC, said he decided a few weeks ago to try something in a similar spirit in Juneau, reserving the cabin at the park and posting notices on local Facebook pages. The notices ask attendees to bring a dish to share, and indoor/outdoor games are planned during the gathering, a DJ will play various types of music and there will be an open mic session for people wanting to showcase their talents in 10- to 15-minute sets.

He said he’s been contacted by dozens of people interested in attending and/or performing, and many of the people he works with are planning to bring “all different types of ethnic food” in addition to the traditional turkey and ham he plans to provide.

As for the entertainment, while much of that will be determined by those who sign up, Hammond said he can guarantee a scorching finale since his girlfriend, Christy Zaide, is a fire dancer who has performed with the Alaska Fire Circus and others.

“Coming here she hasn’t really found a community that does that here,” he said, adding the hope is that might be among the new acquaintances made during the gathering.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 25

Here’s what to expect this week.

Wreath bearers present wreaths for fallen comrades, brothers and sisters in arms during a Memorial Day ceremony at Alaskan Memorial Park on Monday. Laying wreaths on the graves of fallen heroes is a way to honor and remember the sacrifices made. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
Traditional Memorial Day ceremonies offer new ways to ‘never forget’ those who served

New installations at memorial sites, fresh words of reminder shared by hundreds gathering in Juneau.

Thunder Mountain High School graduates celebrate after moving their tassels to the left, their newly received diplomas in hand, at the end of Sunday’s commencement ceremony. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
‘Forever a Falcon’: Thunder Mountain High School celebrates final graduating class

147 seniors get soaring sendoff during 16th annual commencement full of heightened emotions.

Seniors at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé enter the gymnasium for their commencement ceremony on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
JDHS graduates celebrate journey from virtual ‘pajama class’ freshmen to virtuous camaraderie

Resolve in overcoming struggles a lifelong lesson for future, seniors told at commencement ceremony.

Sierra Guerro-Flores (right) listens to her advisor Electra Gardinier after being presented with her diploma at Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi High School’s graduation ceremony Sunday in the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé auditorium. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Alternatives are vast for Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi High School’s graduating class

31 students take center stage during ceremony revisiting their paths at the school and what’s next.

The LeConte state ferry in 2023. (Lex Treinen / Chilkat Valley News)
Stranded Beerfest travelers scramble to rebook after LeConte ferry breakdown

Loss of 225-passenger ferry leaves many Juneau-bound revelers looking for other ways home.

A photo taken from the terminal roof shows the extent of the first phase of paving to accommodate large aircraft. (Mike Greene / City and Borough of Juneau)
Large-scale repaving project plants itself at Juneau International Airport

Work may take two to three years, schedule seeks to limit impact on operations.

Capital Transit buses wait to depart from the downtown transit center on Thursday. Route number 8 was adjusted this spring. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
More service, visitor information helping Capital Transit to keep up with extra cruise passenger traffic

Remedies made after residents unable to board full buses last year seem to be working, officials say

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 23, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read