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Donations, discounts and a shopping surge will help feed 100 families at Christmas
POULSBO — It was 7 a.m. but all volunteers were awake and alert and decked out in Lions Club vests.
“It’s a tough time of year for a lot of families,” said John Macdonald of the Poulsbo Noon Lions Club. “For those who can’t really provide a lot, this gives them a little bit extra to enjoy the holiday season.”
Within an hour, 35 Lions at three markets purchased enough goods to fill Christmas food boxes for 100 local families, Tuesday at Albertson’s, Central Market and Red Apple Market.
The program, called the Poulsbo Lions Bellringer Food Basket program, is funded by the Poulsbo Lions Bellringer Fund. Families that signed up for food boxes will pick them up by Wednesday; all boxes not picked up will be delivered to Fishline.
This was a team effort. At each market, Lions shopped from a list of items for families of one to three, and four or more. Each family gets a turkey, stuffing, onions, celery, potatoes, oranges, canned cranberries, canned yams, canned vegetables, canned pumpkin, canned milk, vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, margarine, bread, brown and serve rolls, a foil pie tin, and Christmas candy.
At the checkout stand, store employees rang up items from a line of shopping carts, and put the items in labeled boxes. The boxes were then stored for pickup — 33 or 34 boxes per store. The stores got into the action as well. Albertson’s donated eight to 10 turkeys and gave a $30 discount on the total bill. Central Market hunted out the best deals. Red Apple gave a 10 percent discount.
“As a result, our costs dropped by 30 percent,” Macdonald said.
All told, the Poulsbo Lions Bellringer Fund spent $1,078 at Albertson’s, $1,897 at Central Market, and $1,544 at Red Apple — a total of $4,519, or $45.19 per family, down from $50 to $70 per family.
At Red Apple Market, a familiar man was boxing groceries for the 40th or so year: Gordon Stenman, who retired in 1995 as store manager. One checkout lane over, Jeff Uberauga boxed groceries as Eric Jensen worked the register. Uberauga, the store’s owner, got his first job at the store from Stenman.
“I used to work for him, now he works for me,” Uberauga quipped.
Between them, Stenman and his daughter, Kristan, have a combined 65 years of volunteering for the Poulsbo Lions Bellringer Food Basket program.
Another tradition: Herb Armstrong, aka Mr. Dinty Moore, walked up with a basket of cans of Dinty Moore stew, his own donation to each Christmas food box. His wife, Elda, and their granddaughter, Jennifer Gregg, also volunteered. Neil Torvik, a snowbird who winters in Palm Springs, was home for the holidays and lent a hand.
After the shopping surge ended, Central Market store merchandiser Andrew Gagner dabbed an eye when he thought of all of the generosity that made the event possible.
“It’s a lot of work, but the giving this time of year — it’s cool,” he said.
Others providing Christmas food baskets this year include Gateway Fellowship, 60-65; and Poulsbo First Lutheran Church, 30.
Fund was founded in the 1940s
Donations to the Poulsbo Lions Bellringer Fund are used to provide food, emergency shelter and emergency financial assistance to North Kitsap residents in need.
The fund was founded in the 1940s by Frank and Mabel Raab as a vehicle for neighbors to help each other during emergencies. The Poulsbo Noon Lions Club administers the Bellringer Fund for the Raab Foundation.
North Kitsap Fishline and others periodically turn to the Poulsbo Lions Bellringer Fund for help providing assistance to families facing eviction, emergency assistance paying utility bills, and keeping homes supplied with heating fuel. Last year, the Poulsbo Lions Bellringer Fund supplied 100 Christmas food baskets to local families.
All told, the Poulsbo Lions Bellringer Fund and its donors assisted more than 300 families in 2011.