November in Homer brings about several holiday traditions, including the Kachemak Bay Lions Club’s Thanksgiving baskets.
The baskets, full of canned goods, individual turkeys and other donated Thanksgiving items, have supplied low-income families with a holiday meal for the last four decades.
According to the Lions Club official website, in 2022 they provided baskets to 193 families.
Event organizers hope to keep the numbers up in 2023 and beyond, despite recent difficulties with participation.
“Applications are down, and donations are down, and I’m not really sure why … (but) we made it through,” Fran Van Sandt, longtime member and former chairwoman of the Lions Club, said.
“We always find a way to make it through.”
For two months ahead of the Nov. 1 application deadline, Lions Club representatives handed out application forms at the Homer Community Food Pantry and the Anchor Point Food Pantry every Monday and Friday, respectively.
While the application process may be over, donations and volunteers for the basket giveaway Saturday morning are encouraged, according to Van Sandt.
“Anybody who wants to help — we’re happy to have them help,” Van Sandt said.
She also credits the grant delivered from the Jane Little Family Endowment Fund, through the local Homer Foundation, as a major factor assisting the club with funds this year.
The grant is the first of its kind for the club, though Van Sandt said community donations are still important to make the baskets possible year after year.
“(The Lions Club) is so appreciative of everyone’s efforts, as without the community’s support and the nonprofits here, (the baskets) wouldn’t be possible,” Van Sandt said.
Van Sandt said any volunteers interested in packaging and distributing the baskets can help beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, Nov. 18, at the Homer United Methodist Church. Volunteers can stop by and donate, put together baskets, or contribute to the effort any way they can.
Applicants looking to receive their baskets should wait until after 12 p.m. for their baskets to be ready.
“It should just be Lions Club members after 12 p.m. We just want to give (those families getting baskets) a chance for some privacy,” Van Sandt said.
Applicants are expected to show up at around 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. with their applications in hand. Baskets will be assembled in the basement of the church.
Leftover donations from the baskets will be available when the food pantry opens on Monday at 12 p.m.
Another opportunity to interact with the community over the Homer holiday season includes the upcoming Champions for Children Toy Drive.
Donations, defined by the Homer Chamber of Commerce as “new and unwrapped toys or sporting goods,” are accepted until Dec. 15.
Drop-off locations for the toys are the Homer Police Station (625 Grubstake Ave.) and the chamber of commerce (201 Sterling Highway). Visit the official chamber of commerce website at homeralaska.org under “Events” for more information.