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‘It’s in the bag’ at Fishline
t Handmade eco-friendly grocery and gift bags on sale to support food bank.
POULSBO — Karen Timken reeled open a file drawer and pulled out a thick stack of white papers. She leafed through, reading them off one by one. Rent, gas, water, propane, power. First month’s rent,” said North Kitsap Fishline’s executive director. “These were the people we helped in October.”
In fact, Fishline has spent $52,000 so far this year just on client services, providing emergency bill payments and other help to those in need. In 2007, $11,700 was spent on client services in total.
Fishline operations manager Garvin Tootle said 472 emergency boxes were given out in October, compared to the less than 350 that went out in September. It’s the largest amount given since Fishline began taking records in 2000.
Clients have been coming in due to layoffs, reduced hours and a lack of jobs, he said, adding last month 79,000 pounds of food went out the door in clients’ hands. That’s roughly equal to the weight of a train car.
“We all take our turns. I certainly have,” Timken said. There was a point in her life where she depended on food bank services to get by. “That was so hard to walk in and do that.”
She said the number of homeless is on the rise, as is the amount of first-time visitors.
“It’s so hard, because these people come in and they feel so embarrassed,” she explained.
While Fishline volunteers continue to offer respect and a welcoming atmosphere to those who walk through their door, Timken has created a new opportunity for the community to pitch in. She’s hand-stenciled and painted 100 earth-friendly reusable grocery bags, and they’re now for sale at both Fishline and Central Market. At Central Market, they’re ticketed at $15 or $25; at Fishline they can be bought for $15 or more.
The bags sport Fishline’s name and phrase ‘neighbor helping neighbor,’ as well as a food basket depiction.
Also up for grabs are mini-reusable bags — or tree ornaments — that contain Fishline donation cards.
“They’re great gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, any kind of remembrance,” said Timken.
Proceeds from the bags go to client food and services. Donations are of emphasized importance, as the expanded client services budget Fishline worked with this year may not be as plentiful in 2009, and grants are becoming more competitive.
Tootle said donations have been on the decline, though community members continue to offer what’s possible in the face of the wallowing economy.
“Everyone is stepping up to the plate as best they can,” he said. “I’m really proud of Poulsbo.”
For more information on purchasing a bag, call Fishline at (360) 779-5190.
Fishline is also accepting donations for a toy drive. Sign-ups to receive will be from Nov. 10-21. November 22 will ring in the food bank’s auction night, during which a $25 ticket earns attendees wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres and the chance to bid on all kinds of items, including a case of wine with a personalized label. It’s a “come as you want” dress code, and the purchase of 10 tickets equals a reserved table for groups wanting to make a party of the event. Find more information at www.nkfishline.com.