Spirit of sharing fills holiday season

By McKibben Jackinsky

Staff writer

It’s full-steam ahead into the holiday season with Share the Spirit, a community-wide effort to ensure no one goes without food or gifts for Christmas.

The Thanksgiving weekend ends and Share the Spirit jumps into action, with applications for food and gift requests, applications to adopt a family and a food drive that began Monday. In addition, many area schools also hold food drives to benefit the program. Gift trees, decorated with gift suggestions, will begin appearing around town soon.

“We wait, as we always do, for Thanksgiving to complete, and then our applications will be available starting Monday,” said Shari Daugherty, who, along with Kelly Glidden, coordinates Share the Spirit.

Applications requesting food and gifts will be available for four weeks at local human service agencies and churches. Food baskets and gifts will be distributed Dec. 22. As in past years, applicants receive a notice in the mail telling them where and when the food and gifts will be available.

“It’s pretty wide-ranging,” said Daugherty of the locations where applications can be found, including Public Health, the Homer Community Food Pantry, Head Start and “…pretty much anywhere that’s a human service agency. If a provider doesn’t have a copy of the application, the provider should call and we’ll get a copy to them.” 

For those requesting gifts, Daugherty recommended submitting an application “the sooner the better,” since those requests are the basis of gift-suggestions decorating the gift trees.

“The more time we have to put ornaments on the tree, the more time for people to choose,” said Daugherty of giving people time to select gift suggestions, purchase them and put the gifts back under the tree.  

Individuals, households and groups of coworkers and friends also can contribute by anonymously adopting a family for the holidays. After they complete an application, Share the Spirit will match them with a family.

Last week it looked like the spaghetti feed, a favorite fundraiser for the program scheduled this year for Dec. 11, might not have anyone to organize it, but Rick and Sharlene Cline, owners of the Homestead Restaurant, have volunteered to take over that activity. Volunteers are needed to give the Clines a helping hand.

“If you volunteered in the past, we probably have your name on a list, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call again,” said Daugherty. “We need cooks, servers, people to work the two days ahead of time to prep, drivers for delivery and the cleanup crew. And we probably need a person or two to work the door, selling raffle tickets and taking money.”  

The many volunteer opportunities at the spaghetti feed illustrates how important volunteers are to the whole program, from purchasing gifts to donating food to helping with the spaghetti feed to packing food baskets and wrapping gifts. 

“And we’d like all the restaurants and bakeries in town to be expecting a phone call from us asking for salad and bread donations,” said Daugherty of food to round out the Dec. 11 spaghetti feed. “This is just a little bee in their bonnet that someone will be calling them.”

In the past, high school seniors needing to fill community project requirements have volunteered as Share the Spirit elves.

“We usually have a half dozen of them working on the project, zipping around town every day picking up gifts and bringing them to the main tree, gathering food and putting it in boxes,” said Daugherty. “And we’re still looking for elves. The more the merrier.”

In past years, the food basket packing and gift wrapping were done on separate days, but this year, both activities will be done Dec. 21 in the Homer High School Commons. Daugherty is inviting people to come for whatever amount of time they have available to help.

“It’s not like you have to commit a 10-hour day. If you can come at 9 a.m. and stay until 11 a.m., great. If you can’t come until noon, come then and jump in. It just takes a lot of hands to get it done,” said Daugherty, stressing there are ways for everyone to participate.

“No matter what your budget allows for, there’s a way for you to get involved in Share the Spirit,” she said.

“Wrap gifts, volunteer at the spaghetti feed, go buy a couple cans of food and drop them off in a collection budget, go to one of the gift trees and get an ornament or two or twelve.”  

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.