MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Community Food Bank helped local families in need get a head-start on their Thanksgiving holidays by distributing their annual Thanksgiving food baskets on Nov. 22, 25 and 26.
Marysville Community Food Bank Director Dell Deierling reported on Friday, Nov. 22, that 96 volunteers had helped 238 families fill their Thanksgiving food baskets on the first day of this year’s three-day distribution, which is actually slightly down from last year’s 243 families served on the Friday kickoff of 2012’s three-day Thanksgiving food basket distribution.
“The number of families we’ve served this year is actually down 5.9 percent from the number we’d served at this time last year, but I’m still anxious,” Deierling said on Nov. 22. “Nov. 1 was when they began rolling back the food stamp benefits from the stimulus package, which affects about 14 percent of the population, and this past Monday and Tuesday saw near-record crowds, so especially with the increased demand that always happens around Thanksgiving, I’m planning to serve at least as many families as we did last year, which was 715.”
While the Marysville Community Food Bank was thick with volunteers on Nov. 22, Deierling asserted that it’s better to have too many than not enough helpers during the holidays.
“The last thing we want to do is run short of either food or labor, so if even they’re stepping on each other’s feet, I’d turn around and thank them for being there,” said Deierling, who credited local Rotarians and sailors from Naval Station Everett for making up much of this year’s slight boost over last year’s pool of volunteers. “Those folks are always jumping right in. We get two tidal waves of donations and volunteers, during Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Deierling acknowledged that the economy is improving and unemployment numbers are getting lower, but he hastened to point out how statistics don’t always tell the whole story.
“Wages are still stagnant for the working poor, so you have all these people who are working, but they still need to use the food bank,” Deierling said. “We all depend on the often unappreciated jobs that these people do, so this is a form of compensation for the services that they do for us, because they don’t receive enough for doing their jobs.”
Since coming to the food bank can be a challenging adjustment for families who are unaccustomed to needing such help, Deierling has enlisted the aid of musician friends to play holiday tunes, and drawn from donations of cocoa mix to serve up hot chocolate to those who stop by for their Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets, although he would welcome more donations of cocoa mix almost as much as he’d appreciate receiving some turkeys to distribute to local families over the holidays.
“We have a bit of a deficit of hams and turkeys, so we’ve been handing out chickens instead,” Deierling said. “As we’ve spoken to our families, though, what we’ve heard is that having turkeys for the holidays is huge.”
Harv and Larry Jubie are among the volunteers that Deierling described as regular returnees during the holidays, and as they kept the shelves stocked for shoppers, Larry Jubie reflected on how need can touch anyone.
“I remember when we were kids, and things would sometimes slow down,” Larry Jubie said. “Having a food bank around when we were younger would have been a big benefit. It’s a more organized way of delivering much-needed meals.”
Larry admitted that he and his brother Harv can only lend their hands to the Marysville Community Food Bank on occasion, and spoke glowingly of those who can commit to volunteering there on a weekly or monthly basis.
“If you take the time to come by every week, or every month, that deserves respect,” Larry Jubie said on Nov. 22. “It’s nice to see so many kids volunteering here today, including my son. It’s a good experience for them.”
Lakewood High School junior Molly Stuller sets aside a few weeks out of every year to volunteer at the Marysville Community Food Bank, but it’s usually been around Halloween.
“I’ve been donating to the food bank since middle school,” said Stuller, who helped coordinate a potato donation drive for area food banks three years ago. “This work is not a challenge. It’s a privilege to work with people on such a personal level.”
“Moving crates can get to be exhausting,” said Kyle Jennings of Marysville Getchell High School, who’s been volunteering at the Marysville Community Food Bank for the past five months. “But I like interacting with the people I meet here.”
Navy Seamen Deja McGee and Phoebe Leach were among the sailors who came from Naval Station Everett to help guide shoppers through the line on Nov. 22, and their sentiments echoed those of Stuller and Jennings.
“It’s motivating to see so many people in need of some blessings,” said McGee, a George native who’s volunteered at the Marysville Community Food Bank seven times over the past three months. “I feel like I should give back, because I’m not from around here.”
“I just like Christmas,” said Leach, whose first time volunteering at the Marysville Community Food Bank was on Nov. 22.
If you can help, or want more information, please call the Marysville Community Food Bank at 360-658-1054, especially since volunteers are also needed to assist at its Toy Store throughout the month of December. To volunteer at the Toy Store, please call Cha Monteith 360-659-4659.