A volunteer selects donated toys for a recipient during The Salvation Army’s food and gift giveaway Saturday at its church and administrative office downtown. St. Vincent de Paul in Juneau is hosting its Adopt-A-Family gift giveaway this week, but had to stop accepting wish lists from families early due to higher-than-usual demand, according to Director Dave Ringle. People interested in helping a family can contact the organization by Thursday, (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A volunteer selects donated toys for a recipient during The Salvation Army’s food and gift giveaway Saturday at its church and administrative office downtown. St. Vincent de Paul in Juneau is hosting its Adopt-A-Family gift giveaway this week, but had to stop accepting wish lists from families early due to higher-than-usual demand, according to Director Dave Ringle. People interested in helping a family can contact the organization by Thursday, (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Santa’s helpers for the needy can use some holiday help

Annual gifts and meals for Juneau’s struggling continue their traditions, but limited by high demand

Santa’s workshop got a late start and is putting an early halt on fulfilling wish lists from needy families in Juneau this year due to some unmerry circumstances including a higher-than-normal number of requests, the head of the local St. Vincent De Paul chapter said Tuesday.

Homeless and disadvantaged residents will have ample opportunity for warm shelter and festival feasts during a chilly Christmas week, thanks to overlapping efforts by several agencies. But St. Vincent’s annual Adopt-A-Family effort has stopped accepting requests from families for the time being because the current list already matches available adoptees, said Executive Director Dave Ringle.

“It might be the first time we’ve closed requests for presents before Christmas in four or five years,” he said. “Usually we don’t get 250 to 300 requests until three or four days before Christmas. We’re up to 250 now.”

The workshop got a late start due largely to upgrade work at St. Vincent’s complex on Teal Street, Ringle said. Gifts are being wrapped and will be distributed to families during the week, along with meals when needed and available, with a handful of volunteers making deliveries to recipients unable to show up.

Ringle said people wanting to adopt a family for Christmas can do so by Thursday by contacting the organization at (907) 789-5535 or visiting its Adopt-A-Family page at https://svdpjuneau.org.

“We always have last-minute sign-ups and we always have last-minute volunteers,” he said.

Other local agencies involved with homeless and disadvantaged people are well underway with their holiday traditions and plans.

The Salvation Army hosted it annual food and gift giveaway on Saturday, where hundred of families got gift bags filled with a mix of needs and wish-list items along with the makings for a full holiday feast. Holiday meals and gifts are also being provided on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day by the Glory Hall and the warming shelter at Resurrection Lutheran Church.

The warming shelter, expected to be open extended hours from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. much of the week due to extremely low temperatures (available staff permitting), also will host a holiday ham dinner with all the trimmings on Christmas Eve, said Bradley Perkins, co-manager of the shelter. The church’s Christmas Eve service will also be telecast into the room for guests not wanting or unable to attend in person. For gifts, gloves, hats and other cold-weather essentials have been provided by donors.

When 7 a.m. Christmas Day arrives, the guests at the shelter won’t simply be cast out into the holiday cold, he said.

“Typically the Glory Hall bus comes to pick up as many people as possible,” he said. “They will do as many runs as possible.”

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at The Glory Hall will both feature special meals, said Chloe Papier, interim executive director of the shelter. Per tradition, Congregation Sukkat Shalom will host the Christmas Eve meal and the Juneau Rotary Club will provide presents.

Staff at the Glory Hall will prepare and serve a turkey dinner on Christmas Day, with a tree donated by Glacier Gardens in the backdrop, she said.

• Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com

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