Gift of Gobble

Barbara Morando, left, vice president of Yelm Food Co-op Board, and co-op board member Terry Kaminski finish stuffing bags for the co-op's fourth annual Gift of Gobble outreach in which families in need receive a full Thanksgiving meal, Monday at the co-op.

Money was a little tighter this year from the usual businesses that donate to the Yelm Food Co-op’s annual Gift of Gobble outreach program, though the names of families in need kept rolling in.

Still, everything came together perfectly, as it does each year, said Gift of Gobble coordinator Andrea Levanti.

“It’s always been this balancing act of not wanting to get too many families nominated because we don’t want to have to turn anybody away, but it always comes out perfect in the end. That’s the magic of it,” said Levanti, who came up with the idea of the food donation four years ago.

In the fourth year of this Thanksgiving meal donation, the amount of families served has more than tripled since the program started in 2010. Monday at the Yelm Food Co-op, 105 families or family representatives from the Yelm/Rainier/Roy/McKenna area came to pick up their food bags.

“We really were determined to get members of our local community, a whole cross-section of people,” said Barbara Morando, vice president of Yelm Food Co-op Board of Directors. “We asked all the different church groups to nominate families, and we also donated to military families, disabled people, health-challenged, homebound, single parents, elderly, among others. They’re each nominated by someone they know who fills out a form for them.”

Each bag of food was valued at $50 and could feed a family of six. Through a few large donations from Co-op customers to donations from businesses and general donations from customers, the board of directors was able to raise more than $5,000 to surpass its goal of 100 bags.

“I’ve just seen a level of generosity and abundance in this area that is just amazing. I went to doctors and dentists offices and all over, and they all gave,” said Gift of Gobble primary fundraiser Carol Franks. “People also came into the store (co-op) and were just really generous. We were able to value each bag at just $50; we got it down to a system and this is really good-quality food. It’s all organic.”

The food bags were filled with turkey, cranberry sauce, corn, pumpkin pie filling, muffins, bread rolls, potatoes, onions, carrots, stuffing, butter and gravy.

More than 100 reusable bags, valued at $8.50 apiece, were voluntarily donated by Patty Reed Designs, without anyone from the co-op asking for them.

“It was really nice to be able to provide these nice bags of food for our families,” Morando said.

Those on the co-op outreach saw firsthand the generosity of people in this community, even when it wasn’t necessarily financially easy for folks to give to the cause.

“In doing the fundraising I was so very touched by a young lady at Mr. Doug’s Restaurant who said, ‘I would like to give,’ and she handed us everything she had in her tip jar for the day — $17,” Morando said. “In this really financially difficult time for most people, it’s wonderful to see how people are still so willing to give. It was so easy to collect money from others.”

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