Boy Scouts Joey Cusick, Carson Helland, and Ben Goins from Key Peninsula Lions Club-sponsored Troop 220 sorting some of the food the troop collected for and delivered to the KP Community Services Food Bank Nov.15. Photo by Hugh McMillan, KP News

Key Peninsula Community Services has two big items on its “wish list.”

First is a hope that community members make a pledge to donate funds or food items on a regular basis. And wish No. 2 is that more people will volunteer to help with the myriad tasks that need doing at the community center every week.

“We sent out a letter on Sept. 17 asking the community to respond to our annual pledge drive,” said Penny Gazabat, KPCS executive director.

“Maybe they can only pledge once, or maybe once a month, but every bit helps,” she said.

Gazabat hopes that when people are out shopping and they see a two-for-one coupon, they’ll think about giving KPCS the “one that they got free.”

“We’re always looking for food items –– that’s an ongoing need. And the pledge drive helps us with our operating costs, especially when we have to purchase food when we don’t have enough on the shelves.”

The center provides about 185,000 meals to community residents every year, Gazabat said.

During the holiday season –– the “giving season” as Gazabat calls it –– people are very generous and thinking about helping others.

“This time of year we get a lot of food donations from food drives that go on through the Boy Scouts 220, KP Middle School, Stuff the Bus and many other organizations that do food drives for us.

“It’s after we hit that beginning of the new year in January, February and March that we have a lot of difficulty in meeting the need,” she said.

The senior lunch program is just one of the services KPCS provides on an ongoing basis.

The lunch program serves a nutritious meal to seniors in the community several times a week. It started in 1984, said Hellen Saxer, secretary of the KPCS board of directors.

KPCS partners with several Pierce County organizations in the meal program and other senior services.

Catholic Community Services provides once-a-month foot care for seniors. “The philosophy behind that is if you’re not able to walk because you’re not able to take care of your feet, you could be in a world of hurt. That’s one of the things Pierce County identifies as a needed service,” Gazabat said.

In addition to food and money donations, KPCS also needs more volunteers.

“Volunteers are the backbone of our organization,” said Margaret Adams, a former board member. “They’re the most important part of this.”

Volunteers are needed to help in the food bank, in the Senior Center and to help load and unload the food donations.

Thanks to a donation of a brand new refrigerator truck from the Boeing Employees Fund, KPCS now has a regular driver, Gazabat said, “but we need helpers to load and unload it. We move about $570,000 worth of products a year and that takes a lot of muscle and coordination.”

Volunteers are also needed on the board of directors –– especially people who have financial and marketing skills.

“The board members are the people who make the decisions about the community center,” Saxer added. “It’s a very important position. I wish more people would participate.”

It’s a wonderful feeling to volunteer, Gazabat said. “I used to volunteer in the food bank so many people come in and tell us, ‘I don’t know what we would have done without you, folks.’ It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you’re helping someone,” she said.

For information call KPMS at (253) 884-4440.

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