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Food banks hope for a heaping helping of donations

KINGSTON — Now that the first half of the local food banks’ busy season is over, it’s time to buckle down and start on the second half of the season — Christmas.

Both Kingston Food Bank and ShareNet Food Bank are in search of non-perishable and fresh foods to assist their efforts to make the holidays fulfilling for local families in need.

For its clients, ShareNet expects to put together 125 Christmas baskets, which include all the fixings for a holiday dinner, plus everyday food staples to sustain the families for the week following the holiday, said ShareNet director Kim Planck.

ShareNet will accept donations and basket sign ups from 9:30 a.m. to noon every Tuesday and Friday through Dec. 17. They can also be dropped off in the lobby of the Bayside Community Church on weekdays. Baskets will be available for pick up Dec. 21. ShareNet will be closed Dec. 22 through Jan. 4.

Basic holiday items needed include stuffing mixes, 5 lbs. bags of potatoes, gelatin, noodles for leftover turkey soup, margarine, brown sugar, candy canes, 12 oz. bags of chocolate chips, boxes of oranges and canned cranberry sauces, chicken broth, vegetables, pumpkin pie mix, juice, yams and evaporated milk. Planck also emphasized the need for turkeys.

“I really need turkeys. We’re 60 short,” she said. “Our food donations are really down this year. The food drives themselves are not as big as usual and our numbers are up and that’s probably why — people who give are needing help.”

Planck also encourages donations of unwrapped gifts, wrapping paper and tape for its “Santa Shop,” which is open to parents when they pick up their Christmas baskets. Planck suggests age-appropriate toys for kids and emphasizes personal items for older kids, 12- to 16-year-olds, such as shampoos, gift certificates, sweatshirts, gloves and hats.

“I actually think the parents like that best because they can pick something out their kid will like,” Planck said.

Residents can also “sponsor” ShareNet clients for the season. The sponsoring family receives a list of ages and genders of a client family and can purchase specific gifts for them.

Up the street at Kingston Food Bank, Director Vi Weaver’s grandson Rodney Weaver is taking care of business this year while his grandmother recovers from surgery.

So far, about a dozen people have signed up for the baskets and it’s only the first weekend of the month, he said. Since he is estimating they will have about 45 to 50 baskets to pack up and hand out, he noted, “We’ll definitely need help (with donations).”

The last day for donations and sign ups is Dec. 20. Baskets will be distributed Dec. 22.

The non-profit went into the Thanksgiving season with a bare minimum stash of goods but thanks to donations, Kingston Food Bank was able to help 25 to 30 families with food baskets, he said. In fact, the non-profit has about 40 turkeys leftover for the Christmas baskets.

“This year, we’ve had more than usual,” Weaver said.

However, there are always items needed, such as ham, stuffing, cranberries, potatoes, butter, margarine, bread, milk, vegetables, macaroni and cheese, pancake mix, syrup, cereal, baked bean and pork ‘n’ beans.

Besides food donations, Kingston Food Bank will also accept money as well as gift cards for parents. The non-profit will also a their gift shop open for parents to come in and select a gift per child when they pick up their food baskets. The food bank will only accept new toys for a children ages 14 and younger.

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