As area residents begin basting turkeys and buying presents for the holiday season, local charities also are preparing for what is traditionally their busiest time of year.
'People tend to think about it around Thanksgiving or Christmas, because we become really aware around those times, but hunger doesn't know any season.'
--Kenai Peninsula Food Bank Director Peggy Moore
The winter months can be difficult for those in need. Seasonal jobless rates, increased heating costs and holiday gift-buying can push already-thin budgets to the breaking point. Those factors and others combine to make this time of year especially hectic for those organizations that provide food and other services to the needy.
"It's probably our biggest time of the year," said The Salvation Army envoy Jeannie Fanning.
The Salvation Army is planning several special events around the holidays. On Thursday, The Salvation Army will hold a Thanksgiving dinner at its church on Forest Drive in Kenai. Complete with turkey, dressing and all the trimmings, the meal will serve area residents who don't have the means to put on a big meal.
Feeding the poor becomes especially significant around Thanksgiving, but the entire winter presents a challenge for those trying to feed the hungry.
Kenai Peninsula Food Bank Director Peggy Moore said her organization is actively looking for donations to last not just through the new year, but for the duration of the winter months.
"People tend to think about it around Thanksgiving or Christmas, because we become really aware around those times, but hunger doesn't know any season," she said.
The food bank distributes food through local organizations, such as churches. Moore said there is a tremendous need for food because people's budgets don't stretch as far this time of year.
"People find themselves in a position where they have to make a choice between food and gas to go to work or rent. If the food bank can step in and supply the food, it makes a difference," she said.
In addition to food, donations are needed to ensure local children aren't overlooked when Christmas rolls around. The Salvation Army has a program to address that need, setting up a "toy and joy" shop in Kenai. The shop, located in the former Kenai Supply building in Kenai, is a clearinghouse where families can obtain donated toys and other items for Christmas gifts.
Although both Moore and Fanning said donations have been coming in for the holidays, there's always more the community can do to help out.
"There's a number of areas we could use volunteer help in," Fanning said, pointing out The Salvation Army needs people to sort donated items and dispense food at the Thanksgiving dinner.
Moore also said anyone wanting to get into the giving spirit might want to keep the food bank in mind while enjoying their holiday meals.
"When the holidays are over, people are still in need," she said.
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