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With pandemic leading to Thanksgiving cancellations, those in need have options

Thanksgiving dinners may be canceled for many this year because of the pandemic, but there is help available for people in need.

One of the biggest Thanksgiving meal providers on the island, North Whidbey Harvest, recently announced that it would not be hosting its annual free Thanksgiving dinner this year because of COVID-19.

The organization’s volunteer leaders said in a Facebook post that they hope to be back next year, but that people should donate to North Whidbey Help House if they want to help others during the holiday.

The Coupeville Com-munity Thanksgiving is also canceled this year with hopes of resuming in November 2021, according to the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce website.

Meanwhile, several organizations are putting together meal baskets for the holiday.

On North Whidbey, Tina Provoncha from Tina’s Move Whidbey Team Windermere Oak Harbor said she plans to make meal baskets for four nominated families. Provoncha said she will make more baskets if anyone is interested in donating items. People can nominate families in need by contacting Provoncha at 360-672-0058 or email tinamarie@windermere.com by Nov. 20 with the family’s story.

North Whidbey Help House is also preparing meal baskets, but will be closed on Thanksgiving and the day after. The regular sign-up period ended Nov. 13, but the organization will add people to a waiting list through 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25. Those on the waiting list will receive a meal, but there may be some substitutions for some of the side dishes.

To sign up for a Help House basket, recipients ages 18 and older must bring a picture identification and current proof of a physical address that is less than two months old to 1091 S.E. Hathaway St., Oak Harbor. Help House serves people living in between Deception Pass and Bakken Road in Greenbank.

Help House Executive Director Jean Wieman said that the food bank has enough holiday items to get through Thanksgiving, but that donations are always welcomed.

Help House has already received 200 requests for Thanksgiving meals this year and typically gets 450-500 requests.

Wieman said she saw a decrease in services for most of the spring and summer, surmising that the extra food assistance programs impacted the Help House’s numbers, but saw demand begin to rise again in the fall.

“We don’t know what to expect this year,” Wieman said. “It’s been such a weird year.”

On South Whidbey, the American Legion Post 141 in Langley will have a by-donation-only dinner from 2 to 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving

Mobile Turkey Unit is in its 22nd year serving most of South Whidbey and will be offering contact-free delivery of Thanksgiving meals on the holiday.

The organization is planning to deliver 700 meals to people who live between Clinton and Coupeville. People without a permanent address can also find meals at the Chevron Short Stop in Freeland or the Mobil gas station in Bayview.

Deadline to order a meal is 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19 at mobileturkeyunit.com

Thanksgiving is on Thursday, Nov. 26.

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