SK Helpline preparing to provide assistance during holidays

With the holidays approaching, South Kitsap Helpline is in full gear to assist families and individuals with giveaway baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Helpline Executive Director Jennifer Hardison said last year, her organization helped more than 1,000 households during Thanksgiving.

“We expecting to make 1,000 Thanksgiving baskets and more for Christmas this year,” Hardison said.

Hardison said donations for Thanksgiving baskets is Friday, Nov. 22.

She said this year, Helpline is low on canned fruits, such as cranberries, mandarin oranges and fruit cocktail.

“We will collect them for Thanksgiving and again for Christmas,” Hardison said.

Along with canned foods, fresh foods can also be donated to the food bank.

“We can use anything we can put in the baskets,” Hardison said. “People can also donate fresh foods, such as potatoes, celery, onions and carrots. We love to be able to give away the fresh food to help supplement the canned foods.”

She said the food baskets for Thanksgiving will include a turkey and canned or packet gravy.

Hardison said more people are in need this holiday period than in 2012.

Helpline served more than 53,000 people in 2012 and Hardison is expecting that number to increase because of the federal government cutting back on food stamps.

On Nov. 1, the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) food stamp benefit boost created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ended.

Federal law requires a decrease in monthly benefits for everyone getting benefits. The reduction is about 5.5 percent of the maximum allotment, so the amount of the decrease depends on the household size.

“Because of the SNAP reductions, we’re going to see an increase within the next few months,” Hardison said. “People won’t be getting the full amount they were getting before. The more we receive, the more we’re able to help people.”

Helpline served 3,881 people during Thanksgiving and 3,943 at Christmas in 2012.

This year, Hardison said help is need for “Santa’s Toy Shop” for children age 16 and under.

“We can use all the toys we can get — new or unwrapped,” she said. “Clothes are also needed.”

Donations can be dropped off at Helpline or individuals can pull off a name from “giving trees” that will be placed throughout South Kitsap.

“They can take a tag and return a new gift to the tree which we will pickup in time for Christmas,” Hardison said.

SK Helpline is located at 1012 Mitchell Ave. Call 360-876-4089 for more information.


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