Sponsors race deadline for holiday food baskets

By Sharon Salyer

Herald Writer

While food drives have helped restock near-empty shelves at the north Everett warehouse that supplies area food banks, a holiday deadline looms.

Friday is the last day that individuals and local businesses can sign up to sponsor a family or senior with holiday food baskets through Volunteers of America.

About 120 families and seniors still need sponsors, said Virginia Sprague, program director at the organization’s combined Everett food bank and distribution warehouse.It costs a minimum of $25 to sponsor a family or senior. Donors also can provide gifts or toys. Volunteers can sign up through Friday at 425-259-3192, ext. 225.

Food drives by area businesses, community groups and individuals helped restock supplies at the 14,000-square-foot warehouse, which hit a 10-year low in October as donations flowed to the East Coast to support victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The warehouse distributes food to the county’s 19 food banks.

"We’re out of the crisis situation, but we’re not out of the woods by any means," Sprague said.

Some 165 new families came to the Everett food bank in November asking for help, she said. That is a sharp increase from the 15 to 25 new people who usually request food assistance during a typical month.

With increasing numbers of families turning to food banks, and more layoffs scheduled in January by the Boeing Co. and other local businesses, food supplies are expected to be tested early next year.

"I’m already getting phone calls from laid-off Boeing employees asking what’s available," Sprague said. "We’re still in hard times, and will be in hard times for a while.

"We’re very thankful for what folks have given," she said. "Hopefully, people will think about us even after the holidays."

You can call Herald Writer Sharon Salyer at 425-339-3486

or send e-mail to salyer@heraldnet.com.

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