Volunteers from the Thunder Mountain High School Interact Club prepare Thanksgiving food baskets for the Juneau Society of St. Vincent de Paul on Nov. 18, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Volunteers from the Thunder Mountain High School Interact Club prepare Thanksgiving food baskets for the Juneau Society of St. Vincent de Paul on Nov. 18, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau reaches out helping hand for Thanksgiving

Volunteers and donations bring out their best.

As the holidays draw near, Juneau residents pull together as they have for years to look out for others in the community.

Family food baskets, hot Thanksgiving meals and cold-weather clothing drives are all in place, aiming to help those in need.

Thanksgiving Food Baskets

The Juneau Society of St. Vincent de Paul is continuing with their decades-old tradition of providing food baskets for households in need, said general manager Dave Ringle.

“We have food for about 500, give or take a few turkeys,” Ringle said in a phone interview. “We tell people that they should sign up before Monday but we try to honor all requests that come in.”

Supported by donations, SVDP ordered the turkeys months ago, Ringle, so as not to affect the rush.

“I think because we ordered ahead, we were ahead of the supply chain issues,” Ringle said. “We’ve got a generous turkey donor and they went above and beyond this year because turkeys are a lot more expensive this year.”

With help from 12 students from the Thunder Mountain High School’s Interact student organization, volunteers readied the bags of canned vegetables, stuffing, cranberry sauce and chicken broth for distribution. Pies and turkeys are being kept cold separately, to be distributed when the baskets start going out, Ringle said.

“We’re hoping that 40-50 cars will come and deliver 400 baskets between the hours of 10-3,” Ringle said. “The next surprise is whether the weather will cooperate this weekend.”

Other nonprofit organizations are also helping out with the preparations and deliveries, Ringle said. SVDP hopes to be done with its deliveries expeditiously this year but last year, the final delivery was made at 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning.

“We are getting more volunteers this year than the amount of the food we’ve received,” Ringle said. “We have enough to work with everybody.”

SVDP will attempt to meet late requests, according to their site, but may not be able to do so. Households can apply online at https://svdpjuneau.org/thanksgiving-food-baskets/.

Thanksgiving day hot meals

Salvation Army, along with help from volunteers and other nonprofit organizations, will hold their annual Thanksgiving hot meal handout from in front of their thrift store downtown.

“We’re planning on serving as many meals as we can,” said Gina Halverson, Salvation Army officer, in a phone interview. “We’re doing the same thing as last year. We’re doing the drive-up/walk-up.”

Last year, the Salvation Army prepared nearly 600 meals, Halverson said. This year, she expects somewhat fewer. Local restaurants and other other facilities with kitchens, including the Glory Hall, will prepare the hot meals, while Dick Hand reprises his role as the master of turkey preparation, Halverson said.

“They’re hot meals in clamshells ready to go,” Halverson said. “We have volunteers who purchase the food and we’re working with other agencies and restaurants to cook the food.”

Nearly 50 volunteers, not counting workers at the restaurants, make this possible, Halverson said.

“The volunteers in Juneau are amazing,” Halverson said. “This year is a whole new crop of people — half new, half the same as last year.”

Anyone who needs a hot meals for Thanksgiving can walk up to the distribution point and grab as many as they need, Halverson said. People are also encouraged to grab one for people who need one but can’t make the trip themselves.

“You just come and say, I need five meals, and we give em to you,” Halverson said.

The Salvation Army also has its eyes on the next major holiday, Halverson said, seeking donations for their Christmas baskets, including toys.

Cold weather clothing drive

With the warming shelter anchored this year at Resurrection Lutheran Church, the organization is seeking cold weather clothes for its patrons as temperatures plummet and the snow keeps falling, said manager Brad Perkins.

“Socks, coats, gloves, beanies, scarves. Things that the patrons of the warming shelter can immediately use,” Perkins said. “They need to be clean and they need to be immediately ready to hand out.”

The warming shelter isn’t able to sort through widespread donations like SVDP or SA is, Perkins said, but it does need those items, as they’re not able to dry off clothing from guests of the shelter when they come in.

“Mostly we just need clean, new warm clothes for our patrons,” Perkins said. “We don’t want to spend the city’s money going out and buying things.”

The church is open for donations during services on Sunday morning, Perkins said, or during food pantry hours from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays. The church also accepts food for their food pantry, Perkins said, but not home-cooked food, due to health and safety regulations.

“It’s been heartwarming, the number of people calling to volunteer,” Perkins said.

Resurrection Lutheran is located on 740 W. 10th Street.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire
Grace Sikes from the Thunder Mountain High School Interact Club places readied food baskets in a row at the Juneau Society of St. Vincent de Paul on Nov. 18.

Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire Grace Sikes from the Thunder Mountain High School Interact Club places readied food baskets in a row at the Juneau Society of St. Vincent de Paul on Nov. 18.

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