By Steve Guntli
Several local charity groups are working hard to make sure no one goes hungry this Thanksgiving.
The Blaine Community Assistance Program (CAP) will once again be offering needy families free Thanksgiving baskets this November. CAP volunteers are ready to hand out more than 300 baskets on Wednesday, November 26 from noon until 3 p.m., at unit 280 in the Blaine International Shopping Center near Cost Cutter. Jerry Williams, executive director of CAP, said the group is preparing more baskets this year than in 2013, when they gave out about 280.
Each basket comes stuffed with Thanksgiving goodies. Turkey, gravy, rolls, yams, green beans, stuffing and pies are all included, with the size of the turkey depending on the size of the family. Last year, about 48 families with more than 12 members received 25 pound turkeys, the largest available. Williams has purchased about 4,000 pounds of turkeys from Costco while the remaining ingredients will be bought at the Blaine Cost Cutter. Edaleen Dairy is donating milk and volunteers from local churches and the Girl Scouts are providing the pies.
Due to the preparation involved, families need to register in order to receive a basket. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, November 19; call 332-0740. The family services office of the Blaine school district will vet the list of recipients.
“Generally, we exhaust everything we have,” Williams said. “And if everything is gone and we still have people on the waiting list, we provide them with a voucher from Cost Cutter, so no one is going to walk away empty handed.”
CAP is giving priority to needy families with children, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed and the chronically poor.
CAP is still looking to raise funds for the program, Williams said. Donations can be sent by check to the CAP Thanksgiving Basket Fund, P.O. Box 1067, Blaine, WA, 98231.
People who miss out on the Thanksgiving basket can also consider visiting the Blaine Senior Center on Thursday, November 27 for a free Thanksgiving dinner. David Van Duisen with the Sons of the American Legion has organized the annual dinner for the last 10 years. He and his wife, Lisa, gave out more than 415 meals last year, and plan on as many or more attendees this year.
“Everybody needs a Thanksgiving,” he said. “Sometimes people are hungry and needy, other times they’re just lonely and don’t want to spend the holidays looking at the walls of their apartment. We don’t want anyone to have to miss out on a meal.”
Van Duisen is planning to cook about 25 turkeys and up to 20 hams for dinner. His wife, Lisa Carr-Van Duisen, is preparing the yams, potatoes and other side dishes. The couple typically spends more than 24 hours preparing and serving the dinner.
Van Duisen is looking for volunteers to help out with the dinner.
“On average, we have about 55 people volunteering,” he said. “We’re still looking for about 50, but most of our volunteers tend to sign up closer to the event.”
Van Duisen estimates the dinner costs around $3,600. A little less than half of that cost is covered by donations, and the Sons of the American Legion picks up the rest of the bill.
Like the CAP program, the Thanksgiving dinner is dependent on community food donations and Van Duisen is hoping people will donate turkeys. Donated turkeys will be accepted at the Blaine Senior Center or the Sons of the American Legion hall.
If a donor can’t get the turkey to either location, they can call Van Duisen at 360/739-1671 and he will pick it up. Any leftover food will be donated to the Blaine Food Bank.