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Helpline still helping out Santa

Makenzie, 6, helps a Port Orchard mom pick out a donated toy for her son at South Kitsap Helpline Tuesday. - Justine Frederiksen/Staff Photo
Makenzie, 6, helps a Port Orchard mom pick out a donated toy for her son at South Kitsap Helpline Tuesday.
— image credit: Justine Frederiksen/Staff Photo

t Grant, donations

keeping SK food bank

humming despite the generous delivery of snow

When shopping for kids, sometimes it helps to have an expert along.

Like Makenzie, 6, who was helping a Port Orchard mom choose from the stacks of donated toys at South Kitsap Helpine Tuesday afternoon.

First was an easy pick for the woman’s daughter, then the pair tried to think what a boy might like.

“How about this?” Makenzie asked, pointing to a plastic guitar.

After the woman chose the proper toys for her kids, she moved on to the table of hats, scarves and gloves, many of which had just been brought in after being collected by the Soroptimist of Port Orchard.

Along with going home with the gifts and a warm article of clothing, Makenzie made sure that each person coming in to “shop” for their children at Helpline also picked stocking stuffers, a bag of candy, a stuffed animal, and some wrapping paper, a game and assorted art supplies.

So far this year, Helpline’s Executive Director Jennifer Hardison 405 kids had received gifts on Monday and many more parents would be coming in.

“We’ve had so many donations,” Hardison said. “You’d think with the economy, people might not be able to give as much, but people have been really generous.”

As for the holiday food baskets Helpline distributes every year, Hardison said the weather prevented her organization from holding the fresh produce drives it has been recently, but luckily a local tribe came to the rescue.

“We got a $10,000 grant from the Puyallup tribe, which was perfect timing,” she said, explaining that the money helped Helpline buy potatoes, “gorgeous apples,” and perishables like butter to hand out with the Christmas baskets.

Last year, Helpline served 2,414 individuals with 750 Christmas baskets. For Thanksgiving last year, it gave out 739 baskets.

Already this year, Susan Saiki said the amount of baskets the group handed out was up 30 percent, since they distributed 958 Thanksgiving baskets.

“And for Christmas, it could easily be 1,100,” Hardison said.

Despite the cold and heavy blanket of snow, Hardison said families were arriving to pick up their food.

“We opened on Monday and people were already lined up,” she said, adding that the food bank was expected to be closed Wednesday, but would open Christmas Eve from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. to keep giving out food.

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