The Blaine Community Assistance Program’s annual Thanksgiving basket effort is underway, and program director Brent Brentnall said he expects to feed as many as 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 and to keep things fair we really need to buy the food ourselves and more or less standardize the baskets,” Brentnall said.
The program was started in 1997 by former Blaine restaurant owner Annie Magner. Once the need outgrew the ability of local restaurants to meet it, she suggested supplying families identified by the Family Service Center with the raw materials to fix their own meal at home.
Each basket is stocked with potatoes, yams, onions, celery, beans, stuffing mix, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, butter, a homemade pie (with a tub of cool whip) in addition to the turkey. “Since the families we serve are anywhere from two to 13 people,” Brentnall said
Brentnall, who was commended two years ago with a Blaine Builder award 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 and local gas station owner Mike Hill who store the food, and by area businesses who donate quantities of food such as the Edaleen Dairy and Bedlington Potatoes.
“Last year the program provided the makings for a complete Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings including homemade pies to 880 adults and children in 189 local families, a five percent increase over the year before,” said Brentnall.
The dinners are valued at about $80 apiece. They are assembled in a space in the Blaine International Center made available by the mall’s owner, the Phillips Edison Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. The program also gives $25 food vouchers for people who can’t cook their own meal.
The program is completely local, so all the money contributed goes directly toward buying food, making this local charity one of the few where all contributions go for the purpose to which they were given, according to Brentnall.
The program’s expenses are borne by the Peace Arch Christian Ministerial Association. People wishing to make tax-deductible contributions should write them out to the “CAP Thanksgiving Fund,” and send them to P.O. Box 1067, Blaine, WA 98231. Families wishing to receive a meal should contact the Blaine Family Service Center at 332-0740 as soon as possible.