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Helpline gets helping hand

There was no shortage of busy hands delivering food for needy South Kitsap people this year, as local residents joined drives that provided nearly 100 families with Thanksgiving dinners — and then some.

“We take them a lot of food, probably two weeks worth,” said Manchester resident Deanna Preuss, who organized the food drive at First Lutheran Church this year.

Preuss said her church “adopted” 25 families this year, purchasing not only turkeys with all the trimmings, but plenty of staples like cereal, butter, peanut butter and tuna.

“The largest family we had was eight people, and they had five cartons to carry away,” she said, explaining that while she got the list of families from South Kitsap Helpline food bank, the groceries were all either bought or donated by church members.

“I gave each member a bag with the list of things we needed stapled on it, like cans of peas, cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin, and they returned them, full,” she said, explaining that she scored the turkeys cheap by keeping an eye out for sales at local stores. “We bought 500 pounds of turkey, plus the roasting bags, for $139.”

At least 50 more SK families got baskets of food on their doorsteps yesterday thanks to volunteers like Port Orchard residents Dennis and Darla Williams of the Basket Brigade.

Although the brigade is run by Gig Harbor resident David Cathers, Williams said the baskets are delivered “all over” the area, thanks to volunteers who hear about the program and want to help.

Williams said he also contacted SK Helpline, and got the list of dozens of needy families he and other brigade volunteers delivered to.

“We’re just taking the pressure of of Helpline,” Williams said.

Cathers — who started the group 12 years ago — said Basket Brigade buys all the food with donations from volunteers and businesses. This year they got a very good deal on turkeys by working with Tim Brown of Albertsons in Gig Harbor, who formerly was the manager of the store on Olney Drive.

Along with turkeys, Cathers said each family was given about “four or five days worth” of food, including spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and other staples.

To preserve the dignity of recipients’, Cathers said volunteers often just ring the doorbell and leave the food on the doorstep — making sure it gets picked up before they leave, of course.

Williams said he and his wife became involved in the group seven years ago after reading about the group in the local Gig Harbor paper, before moving to Port Orchard two years ago.

“I’m hoping that if people read about it this year, we will get more volunteers and donations next year,” he said, explaining that if it gets too big to deliver everything themselves, they will just drop the boxes off at Helpline to be picked up.

To contact the Basket Brigade, call David Cathers at (253)-278- 9251.

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