Community helps feed families on Thanksgiving

For 793 Sequim households, there will be a cornucopia of good food and the warm knowledge that someone cares this Thanksgiving. Thanks to the generosity of grocery stores, businesses, clubs, churches, individuals, school children and its dedicated volunteers, this year the Sequim Food Bank has provided complete Thanksgiving dinners to more families than ever.

Recipients included families of children in the Boys & Girls Club, Head Start and foster families as well as caregivers for shut-ins. In addition to these, the food bank's 564 regular clients received fixings for a holiday dinner, said Nina Fatherson, executive director for the past 27 years. Alongside her for 60 years has been her husband, Bill.

"This is such a giving community," Fatherson said. "All I have to do is put the word out and they respond."

The Helen Haller Foundation boosted the food bank when it gave donations of $6,000 and later $12,000 for turkeys as the centerpiece entree. Each household took home a turkey, a large box and a sack of traditional Thanksgiving dinner items including yams, green beans, pumpkin, potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. As a bonus, the food bank volunteers also included many staples such as rice, milk, eggs, butter/margarine, cake and pancake mixes, cereal, sugar and flour and a few treats such as jam and juice.

"We did 528 boxes last year, so we've done many more this year," Fatherson said. "A lot of them (clients) have been cut down on their job hours, some have lost their job, some never had to come before - a lot of the elderly due to

the economy."

It's not an easy step for someone to swallow his or her pride and ask for assistance from the food bank, Fatherson said. "Some cry when they first come in. I tell them it's nothing to be ashamed of, it's not a disgrace to need help. Everybody needs help every day. People tell me how grateful they are that we're here and that they don't know what they'd do without the food bank. That's why every can, every item helps."

Fatherson shared two stories based on giving and thanks. The first, more than 20 years ago, involved a family whose car had broken down in Sequim. A church sent the couple and their 6-year-old son to the food bank where Fatherson prepared food for them, including a lemon meringue pie. Fatherson recalled, "The little boy said, 'Mommy, look at what she gave me!' The mom and dad were hugging and crying and the little boy asked his mom to hold the pie. He came back, hugged me and said, "God bless you,'" Fatherson said, emotion choking her voice.

"I had a man three or four years ago who'd lost his job and had a wife with an incurable disease. He was so self-conscious about coming here that I told him I'd meet him one morning alone and that from then on, he didn't have to come when others were there. That Thanksgiving, after we'd given him his box, he started crying, 'I don't know what I'd do without you.' After he got in his car, he cried for a long time."

This Thanksgiving, like every one, Fatherson is thankful for her family, this community, her volunteers who work so hard and that she lives in Sequim.

The Sequim Food Bank, at 144 W. Alder St., is open Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m.-noon. Call 683-1205 for more information.

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