49 Voices: Eileen Starr of Anchorage

Eileen Starr of Anchorage (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

This week we’re hearing from Eileen Starr in Anchorage. Starr is a site coordinator for the Mountain View site for Anchorage Thanksgiving Blessing. On Monday, she and hundreds of volunteers helped give families across Anchorage food for Thanksgiving.

Listen now

STARR: There’s a great need in our community. A lot of people have financial needs in many different ways. Even if they have jobs, they may not be good jobs. Whether they have great needs or little needs, we just want to bless people.

Everyone is welcome. We encourage you to go to the site that serves your zip code if you can, but we won’t turn anybody away at any site. If you want to have this food, we want to give it to you. You don’t have to prove that you’re poor. You don’t have to prove that you have a particular need.

We’ll have four or five hundred volunteers that will come and serve by shopping with people, by stocking the shelves, by breaking down cardboard, by serving cookies, by registering people… a lot of different jobs that we do. You’ll be in and out, almost everybody will be in and out in 30 minutes.

We pair them up with a personal shopper who takes them down the food line and says, “You can have four of these, do you want beans or do you want corn? Do you want to have cranberry sauce?” So they help them make choices. That way, everybody gets served and treated like they’re important, number one, and number two, we can keep our lines moving pretty fast, because we will serve almost 3,000 families today.

It’s a tremendous amount of work, yesterday and today and all the stuff we have to do ahead of time. But it’s so much fun because the families that come are happy, they are feeling blessed. They know what they’re going to get, and they know they’re going to get the same thing as everybody else. They know they’re going to get treated with respect. And the people who come to serve are happy to be able to do it. So everybody in the building is happy.

You can’t have a better day than that if you’re serving 3,000 families.

I’m happy that people serve Thanksgiving dinner at Bean’s [Cafe] and at other places, but it’s nice that they have the food, they can take it to their own homes, serve their wn families, prepare it how they want to do it and it makes them feel like thy’re blessed in they’re own family.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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