Local charity steps up to the challenge

Published on Thu, Nov 6, 2008 by Jack Kintner

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Local charity steps up to the challenge

By Jack Kintner

The Blaine Community Assistance Program’s annual Thanksgiving Basket effort is underway, and program director Brent Brentnall said he expects to feed more than 1,000 people this year, well over half of them children.

“The thing that is needed most in this lean year is cash to support the program,” he said.

“We have a system to put the baskets together pretty well worked out, people to deliver the meals and places to put the food to keep it fresh,” Brentnall said, “and to keep things fair we really need to buy the food ourselves and more or less standardize the baskets.”

Former Blaine restaurant owner Annie Magner got the program started in 1997. Once the need outgrew the ability of local restaurants to meet it, she advocated supplying families identified by the Family Service Center with the raw materials to fix their own meal at home. “It’s not just the food, it’s the occasion. A house needs to smell like Thanksgiving, and putting it together is a great family experience,” she said.

Each basket, really a banana box from Blaine’s Cost Cutter market, is stocked with potatoes, yams, onions, celery, beans, stuffing mix, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, butter, a homemade pie (a tub of cool whip) in addition to the turkey.

“Since the families we serve are anywhere from two to 13 people,” Brentnall said, “we color code the boxes according to how many will be served.

“The Family Service Center chooses the recipients and none of the rest of us know who they are. They just call and let us know how many red boxes, how many blues and so forth.”

Brentnall, who was honored last year as a Blaine Builder for his involvement with this and other CAP programs, said the program is helped a lot by Blaine firefighters who carry the food, by the Cost Cutter store, local gas station owner Mike Hill who stores the food and by area businesses who donate quantities of food such as the Edaleen Dairy and Bedlington Potatoes.

Last year the program provided 180 baskets valued at about $80 apiece, about $10 more than the previous year, plus seven $25 food vouchers for people who could not cook their own meal.

They are assembled in a space in the Cost Cutter mall provided by the mall owner, Phillips Edison company of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The program is totally local, so all the money contributed goes directly toward buying food, Brentnall said, making this local charity one of the few places where individual contributions all go for the purpose to which they were given. The program is provided under the auspices of the Peace Arch Christian Ministerial Association.

People wishing to make tax-deductible contributions to the 501c3 program should make them out to the “CAP Thanksgiving Fund,” and send them to P.O. Box 1067, Blaine 98231, or donate at any of a number of collection jars at local Blaine businesses.

Families wishing to receive a meal should contact Larissa at the Blaine Family Service Center at 332-0740 as soon as possible.