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Neighborhood GIFT serves 4,100 Families

It was snowing and cold, but the lines were long — and as diverse as the people of Alaska. One line included a pregnant woman with red Irish hair, an Alaska Native couple with a 3-month old baby, an elderly Korean man walking with a stick, a Samoan man still in his construction job clothes, and a four year old African American boy in flip-flops.

On Monday, December 22, Neighborhood GIFT served these folks and 4,100 other families seeking toys and food for a festive meal. This was approximately a 30% increase over 2007. And it took our entire community to provide this service and ensure that all our neighbors have happy holidays.

More than 1,000 Anchorage residents — people of faith, Lions, Rotarians, youth groups, elders, and others — gave of their time and energy to volunteer at Neighborhood GIFT sites. We needed all those brains, and backs, to make Neighborhood GIFT work; each and every volunteer is a hero in our eyes.

Neighborhood GIFT is led by Food Bank of Alaska, which provides the food; The Salvation Army and U.S. Marine Corp Toys for Tots, which provide the toys; and United Way of Anchorage, which builds community partnerships. Each of these organizations leaned heavily on the community for donations of food, toys, and/or funds — and the community responded. Here at FBA, the outpouring of support from the business community and individuals to provide sufficient turkeys was truly astounding.

The Neighborhood GIFT sites are managed by faith-based organizations, including Alaska Christian Ministries, Anchorage City Church, Catholic Social Services, Crosspoint Community Church, Faith Christian Community, Lutheran Social Services, Muldoon Community Assembly, and New Hope on the Last Frontier.

There was amazing support from community resources as well. The Anchorage School District offered Begich Middle School as an east-side site; Mt. View Community Center and Fairview Recreation Center stepped forward to host Neighborhood GIFT sites as well. Anchorage City Church and Faith Christian Community opened their doors, hearts and sanctuaries.

The end result? For one shining day in Anchorage, every single family who asked for help received food and toys.

Here at FBA, we enter the holidays delighting in our vibrant and generous community. We wish you all that is merry and bright — and a very Happy New Year!