SK Helpline flooded with donations to replenish damaged food supply

The best of Port Orchard has come out in full force over the past few weeks as South Kitsap Helpline now reports its goods damaged by flood waters have been replenished and then some.

Flooding in the basement of the aging home the dry food supply was in resulted in thousands of dollars in damage and loss in early December. The basement had been regarded as one of the remaining safe spaces for the dry food, Helpline leadership said, but preventative measures to protect the food were not enough.

The outreach from the community to help the agency recover was immediate, whether motivated by ties to helping the local community or the spirit of the holiday season. Executive director Jennifer Hardison said, either way, the outreach was truly a Christmas blessing.

“We have a great community, and it was just mind-blowing with the people that were contacting us,” she said. “Somebody even said they saw a story about us it in the news in Germany.”

While unsure of the total amount as of Dec. 27, Hardison was confident in stating the donations had more than made up for the estimated loss of 20,000 pounds of food. Timberland Bank presented Helpline with a $5,000 check among donations provided by other organizations, individuals and neighboring food banks. Even some clients who rely on the food obtained at Helpline were reported to have given what little they had to assist in the effort.

Some students and teachers from the nearby South Kitsap High School assisted in the flooding cleanup efforts, and the school district was one of the first to begin reaching out for donations in the aftermath of the damage. “They really got everybody involved in doing collections and all sorts of things, so that was really nice,” Hardison said.

The Helpline director added the heartwarming end to the story has also done the agency a favor in getting the word out about its existence. “A lot more people know about us now, you know, client wise that might have needed our assistance,” she said. “It doesn’t say ‘food bank’ in our title, so sometimes people don’t know exactly what we do.”