PORT TOWNSEND — A handful of volunteers stacked boxes of frozen turkeys inside the Port Townsend Food Bank, and then they went back for seconds.
The Port Townsend High School students, excused from class in the middle of the day, made several return trips to a pallet Monday as they hauled 375 turkeys donated by Arrow Lumber.
The turkeys will be part of the offerings for Thanksgiving week when families come to visit Wednesday, Port Townsend Food Bank Manager Shirley Moss said.
Moss greeted Cadian Hendricks, the store manager for Arrow Lumber, who has been part of his company’s annual turkey donation for several years.
Arrow Lumber has seven locations in Western Washington, and it donates turkeys in each of those towns. About 2,200 were on the shopping list this year company-wide, Hendricks said.
“We just want to help the communities that we serve,” he said.
In Port Townsend, the donation is about equal to last year, but that hasn’t always been the case.
“The donation is based on whatever the food bank’s needs are,” Hendricks said.
“I know they needed more a few years ago, so we started to up our donations to match that need.”
In terms of food, Moss said Arrow Lumber’s contribution is the largest the food bank receives every year for nearly the past decade.
The turkeys, at 10 to 12 pounds each, add up to nearly 4,000 pounds, she said.
“What this does is it allows us to give a turkey to anybody who wants one,” Moss said.
The Tri-Area, Quilcene and Brinnon food banks — together part of the Jefferson County Food Bank Association — work on getting additional funds for the holidays, Moss said.
“This really saves me a lot of time and stress of running a fundraiser,” she said.
Hendricks has worked for Arrow Lumber for 13 years. He kept his son out of school a few years ago so he could see the impact at the food bank.
“It’s an expense, and we just pay for it,” Hendricks said about how his company funds the donations. “We budget it in, and we know we’re going to do it. It’s a good thing to be able to do it.”
Moss said she once had a conversation with Arrow Lumber owner Barney Wagner, who told her he’s a man of faith.
“He likes to take a morning walk on his property,” Moss said. “One day he was speaking to God, and he said, ‘When I have more, I’ll do more.’
“God said, ‘Do it now.’ ”
Moss expects about 450 families to use the Port Townsend Food Bank services this week, about 100 families more than usual for this time of the year.
The food bank will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, and both Port Townsend City Manager John Mauro and Arran Stark, the head chef at Jefferson Healthcare’s Garden Row Cafe, will hand out turkeys.
Seniors 65 and older typically visit Saturdays, but they will have an opportunity today to pick up items for Thanksgiving meals.
Moss said new clients have to fill out paperwork, but there are no financial guidelines to qualify for services.
“If someone walks through the door, we give them food,” she said.
The paperwork ensures that individuals aren’t receiving similar services from other food banks, Moss said.
“Generally, someone doesn’t want to stand in line for an hour and a half to two hours if they don’t need it,” she said. “We just have to trust the people who come see us really need it.”
Along with the turkeys, Moss will receive more than 7,000 pounds of various items from Food Lifeline of Seattle. Her shopping list included 640 pounds of yams, 480 pounds of squash, 400 pounds of yogurt and 216 pounds of eggs.
Through Food Lifeline, she was able to make the purchase at 3 cents per pound.
Moss also has more than 100 volunteers, at least one of whom has helped at the food bank for 20 years, she said.
“They do everything from going shopping at Safeway or QFC to setting up and cleaning up,” she said.
“We are 100 percent volunteers, including me. Nobody makes a cent, and I’m proud of that.”
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].