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3:00 PM Thu, Sept. 20th

Food Bank in dire straits with just six turkeys in freezer

PRESCOTT VALLEY — Judy Stewart does trust in the Lord's ability to provide —she's seen it every year.

However, it's the people who do God's will, and they need a little reminding.

Stewart, executive director of the Yavapai Food Bank, is concerned. In a few days her volunteers begin giving out Christmas meals.

It's a task that will take four days with thousands of people who need help to have a holiday meal, rather than just a bowl of cereal or a can of beans come Dec. 25.

But to date, her freezers hold just six turkeys, no hams, and no one has turned in any gift certificates.

Besides that, the food bank's treasury is $12,000 shorter than it was last year at this time. And the food bank still doesn't have enough shoeboxes to hand out, forcing her to move the annual Christmas party from Dec. 17 to Dec. 23.

It's as bad as she's ever seen it, but she's not throwing in the towel.

"Whether it's the election, or the talk of a coming recession, it's hard to say," she said. "I've never seen it like this on Christmas. But I know the Lord's going to do it."

Stewart said she has to order the turkeys by Monday at the latest, or they won't be available for the distribution.

"I'm going to have to put what money we do have down and do this on faith," she said. "It's almost like God is saying to us, 'Do you trust me?'"

And she forwards that trust to the people of the tri-city area, people who can help supply the food bank, which supports 12 food pantries in small communities all over western Yavapai County, and nearly 40 agencies.

Stewart will never turn away a turkey or a ham. However, since she has to find freezer space for any meat that comes in, she's hoping that most people will buy a gift certificate at Bashas' or Albertson's.

A certificate for $10 will cover the cost of a turkey. A $25 certificate will buy a complete meal, with potatoes, stuffing and other trimmings.

People can buy them at one of the three stores, and leave them at the service desk for the Yavapai Food Bank. Stewart said the people at the stores will release them only to her, so the donations are safe.

People also can donate by bringing items to the Yavapai Food Bank, 8400 E. Spouse Drive, Prescott Valley, 86314, or mailing checks or gift certificates for those stores to that address, or Yavapai Food Bank, P.O. Box 4151, Prescott, 86302.

People also can bring perishable or non-perishable items to the "Burning Desire to Feed the Hungry" food drive at the Prescott Valley Albertson's from noon Thursday to 1 p.m. Friday.

Or, people can bring gift certificates, checks and only non-perishable items to any of the Prescott Newspapers Inc. offices:

• The Daily Courier, 147 N. Cortez, Prescott.

• The Prescott Valley Tribune, 8303 E. Highway 69, Prescott Valley.

• The Chino Valley Review, 401 W. Palomino, Chino Valley.

• The Sun Shopper, 239 N. Marina St., Prescott.

Stewart said she set the goal at 3,000 turkeys this year, which looks so far away at this point. But that's just a small showing of what this community can do to provide for its own.

"He gives us more than enough, every year, year after year," she said. "I could worry, but that's not walking in faith."

Besides the food that Yavapai Food Bank needs to supply pantries as far-flung as Bagdad and Black Canyon City, the organization is seeking shoebox gifts.

Last year, the food bank gave out 1,120 shoeboxes to needy people, thanks to local people's generosity.

Shoeboxes have items that help people get along. The items don't have to be small, trendy things.

Small stuffed toys or other small toys, socks, wash cloths, soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, T-shirts, baby items (diapers, clothes, bottles, small bottles of powder or lotion, small toys), and other small items are very appropriate. They also need shoeboxes.

Information: 775-5255.