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More in Need
Giving holiday help

The number of local families needing a helping hand this holiday season is up considerably over last year, but it is not too late either to give or receive assistance.

Food Bank

The Cove food bank, open from 1 to 4 p.m. every Thursday at 128 Glover St. in Twisp, assisted about 100 households last week, according to director Glenn Schmekel. The food bank, which opened 15 years ago, set a record the week before Thanksgiving by helping 112 households, he said.

photoFood donations can be left at the Evergreen IGA (formerly Red Apple) in Winthrop or Hank's Market in Twisp.

The weather has been bitterly cold and Schmekel said he is spending time trying to keep utilities on for people facing shutoff because they can’t pay their bills. The Cove maintains an emergency fund to help with the most pressing community needs. Families can ask for help with utility bills only once per year, he said.

Donations of food, dry goods and cash always are welcome, said Schmekel, whose recipe for success is to have “everybody giving a little bit.” He said one couple donates $10 a week to The Cove. Another delivers cases of toilet paper they pick up at Costco. “That’s what I want to build on,” he added.

Schmekel cited federal cuts to food stamp benefits and the seasonal closures at Sun Mountain, which increases local unemployment, as two examples of what’s fueling local need.

He also said the Friday Backpack program that sends weekend food home with local school students is now serving 80 children and the number is growing. “We’ll give out double food for Christmas break,” he said.

On Thursday, Dec. 12, there will be a food drive in the towns of Twisp and Winthrop. Firefighters from Okanogan County Fire District 6 will collect food donations left on porches of homes that have a porch light switched on.

Food also can be placed in collection containers at the Evergreen IGA in Winthrop and Hank’s Market in Twisp.

Manger Mall

As of this week, 78 families with 181 children had signed up to shop for gifts at the Saturday, Dec. 14, Manger Mall, according to Kathryn Eisenhauer, who is co-chairing the event with Wendy Braden. Last year, 46 families with 120 children participated.

photoA previous year's Manger Mall. The number of families signed up this year is nearly 70% higher than last year.

The Manger Mall will be held at the Grange in Twisp. Parents and other guardians who have pre-registered will be able to purchase and wrap, new age-appropriate gifts for their children that have been donated by the community or purchased through Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

Parents can select and buy one gift and one handmade soft item for $1. All shoppers are assigned a time to arrive at the Grange. “If somebody is in need and has not [yet] registered, I will find a spot for them,” Eisenhauer said. She can be reached at 997-0695.

Eisenhauer said she is hearing some heart-wrenching stories. “One thing we’re seeing is repeat people [from last year]… They can’t get back on their feet.”

At least 40 volunteers will be helping with the Manger Mall, Eisenhauer added. Set-up starts at 10 a.m., Friday, Dec. 13, at the Grange. “We can always use more volunteers [for set-up],” she said.

Volunteers interested in working the day of the mall should call Eisenhauer or Braden in advance. Braden’s phone number is 997-9357.

Gifts will be displayed on tables downstairs. Free gift wrap stations and refreshments will be available on the first floor. Rob “R.T.” Thran will play the dulcimer upstairs on Saturday to help set the mood, Eisenhauer added.

And it’s not too late to make a cash donation earmarked for Manger Mall through the Cove’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors, (NHN), program, or to donate gifts, Eisenhauer said. Toys should be new and in unopened packages.

There are toy collection boxes at the Mazama Store, Winthrop Physical Therapy and Fitness, and in Twisp at Mick and Miki’s Red Cedar Bar and North Cascades National Bank. Check and cash donations for the Manger Mall and for Neighbors Helping Neighbors food baskets can be taken to North Cascades National Bank or be mailed to Neighbors Helping Neighbors, PO Box 895, Twisp, WA 98856.

Holiday Food Baskets

For more than two decades Neighbors Helping Neighbors has collected goods and delivered holiday food baskets to those who sign up to receive one. In 2010, NHN moved under The Cove’s umbrella. This year food will be delivered between 9 a.m. and noon on Saturday, Dec. 21.

The last day to sign up for a basket is Thursday, Dec. 12, by going to The Cove between 1 and 4 p.m.

Pearl Ramcke, who is helping coordinate this year’s food basket program, told Methow Grist, “Our guess is we’ll have 130 to 135” deliveries this year, an increase of about a dozen households over last year.

“We just know there’s a real need to donate food at the Evergreen and Hank’s,” she said. Cash donations also are welcome.

“Volunteers are really stepping up this year and we appreciate it,” she added. Those volunteers will sort and pack the food boxes. Call Ramcke at 996-8129 to help.

Those interested in driving to deliver food boxes should contact vehicle coordinator Wayne Mendro at 997-6070.


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