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Food bank sees record numbers

It was a very good year, indeed, for South Whidbey’s local food bank, with food donations up 23 percent over last year.

Executive director Kathy McLaughlin said Good Cheer had set records in every area of its operation, noting that retail sales through Dec. 10 were $510,227 and monetary donations were $211,716, both all-time high numbers.

Volunteer hours recorded through the third quarter amounted to 15,600 hours, also an all-time high.

Excellent news, because the demand has never been higher.

The food bank is currently serving over 700 families a month;

1,372 children, 2,290 adults and

232 seniors. Food purchases exceeded $200,000 in 2008.

McLaughlin said it’s important to put the numbers in perspective.

Eight years ago the food bank was serving an average of 145 families, retail sales were $288,745 and monetary donations were $27,744.

“Our food bank purchases were $44,792 in 2000, and there were

75 people on our volunteer active list,” she said.

“The numbers are an indicator of good work, but what is most important are the relationships that have been forged over the years,” McLaughlin added. “With the recent death of board member Jack Hoover, I was reminded people often don’t know how much you do until they know how much you care.”

Good Cheer had hoped to celebrate its big numbers this week with its annual year-end appreciation event for volunteers, the staff and community. But snowy weather prompted a postponement.

But that may turn out to be not such a bad thing.

“We have a lot to be thankful for, and that’s the purpose of the appreciation day, to honor all the wonderful people who contributed to a great year for us,” McLaughlin said. “But we’re nervous about the first months of the new year and maybe this event can help jump start our operations.”

She added that everyone is in a giving mood for the holidays and hopes that mindset will continue.

“It’s a scary time for all of us,” she said. “We ended the year in fine shape but we’re also being careful and cautious.”

The tentative date for the appreciation event is now at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21 at Clinton Community Hall. It will be a combination of Good Cheer’s annual meeting and to recognize the services of the volunteers.

Begun in 1962, Good Cheer is the only food bank on South Whidbey. The charity, which operates the food bank, an item receiving and distribution workshop, two general thrift stores and a clothing boutique thrift store, is run by 14 staff members and 289 volunteers. It is overseen by a 15-member elected board of directors.

For more information, or to donate, call 221-6454 or visit www.goodcheer.org.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or jvanderford@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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