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HELPING HANDS: Volunteers help with holiday distribution event
During a two-day period, more than 150 volunteers spent time helping South Kitsap Helpline staff in distributing foods and gifts to needy families at the National Guard Armory.
In all, 1,098 families (4,080 individuals) were helped during Helpline’s Giving Tree/Food Basket distribution on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 19 and 20, said Christina Eckley, operations coordinator for SK Helpline.
On Dec. 17, Helpline staff and volunteers set up distribution points within the armory’s gymnasium.
While people were lined up outside the armory, volunteers were inside collecting food items and helping individuals select gifts for the holiday season.
The Saints Car Club had 19 volunteers on Dec. 19 and 13 on Dec. 20. Port Orchard Eagles members also were on hand volunteering their services, along with individuals from women’s groups, churches, schools and other organizations. Members of the National Guard also volunteered.
Velma Monroe, seasonal volunteer coordinator for SK Helpline Giving Tree, said the volunteers’ help is important.
“We couldn’t do all of this without the many volunteers who have donated their time and efforts,” Monroe said. “Some donated a few hours and others the entire day or two.”
Volunteers ranged from teens to senior citizens.
Saints Car Club member Mac McElwain, 79, sat on a stool and was hooked up to oxygen while placing food items into grocery carts.
One half of the armory was for food distribution, the other half had stacks of toys and other holiday gifts for children and teenagers.
Port Orchard resident Esther Roth was one of the many volunteers.
“I set aside Friday to help volunteer,” Roth said.
Roth, along with several other volunteers, repeatedly made rounds pushing grocery carts and collecting food needed for a Christmas meal.
Once the carts were filled with the needed items, volunteers pushed the carts to the client’s automobile and helped unload the content.
In another part of the armory, clients went through piles of used clothing.
“They took as much as they needed,” Monroe said.
The Laureate Beta Omega Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi donated more than 2,500 handmade Christmas card stockings stuffed with candy canes for food bank clients.