Helping hands deliver Alaska's Thanksgiving Blessing
The Food Bank of Alaska and its partner groups are on track to hand out over 10,000 Thanksgiving meals this year across the state.
At the Real Life Church in Palmer, Salvation Army Capt. Jeff Josephson led efforts Saturday to give many people a helping hand.
"It changes things, it literally changes things," Josephson said. "It lowers the stress, it allows for a moment's peace. It's healthy and it’s healing. It gives people an opportunity to take a breath."
Jospehson has volunteered his time to the event over the past three years. He, along with 200 other volunteers and eight churches in the Palmer area, helped 500 community members receive a Thanksgiving meal.
"The average cost for a small family to have Thanksgiving Day dinner is about $70," Josephson said. "That $70 can keep the lights on for a month. For us to be able to provide just the small relief is astronomical in their lives."
Rosie LeGrand and her sister, Gail Killbear, couldn't thank the volunteers enough.
"It’s really nice how the community comes together like this," LeGrand said. "The way I was brought up, you get together and you always help each other."
"It brings families together that need it," Killbear said. "I’m thankful for that. My mother will be so thankful, I’m going to surprise her with this whole package."
In 2016, Thanksgiving Blessing served a total of 10,625 families in the state of Alaska. Valley Blessing is scheduled for six sites from Palmer to Trapper Creek. Six other locations will also serve people in Anchorage and Eagle River on Monday, Nov. 20.
If you'd like to get a holiday meal for your family, food will be distributed according to ZIP codes. To find your location call 211, or visit the Thanksgiving Blessing website.
Organizers are preparing for an increase in the number of families seeking help, after a year of widespread rises in visits to food pantries and soup kitchens. There is also a dramatic rise in people applying for food stamps.
The program started in 2004 to make it easier for families to find food assistance during the holidays.