Imagine the month before the holidays in the earlier 1960s. You have a great job at that company across the short ferry ride called Boeing. On your way out of work, your boss hands you and several hundred others a pink slip. What goes through your mind as you take that cold ferry ride home? What will we do now? Where will I find a job with so many out of work? How can we enjoy the holidays?
When the news spreads to your fellow community members, they spring into action. What are the holidays without presents and food? These folks wanted to see their neighbors enjoy the season of Good Cheer so they collected Christmas Boxes filled with turkeys and the trimmings, clothes and presents; then they distributed the boxes to over 100 families who needed a little extra help that Christmas.
This was the first year of keeping the “Good Cheer” in South Whidbey by delivering the meals that are the base of so many holiday and family traditions. Good Cheer has continued that tradition every single year for the last 53 years. As the need has grown, so has our resolve to keep the Good Cheer in the season.
Good Cheer was born from that episode of generosity. The founders of Good Cheer were keenly aware that the needs of those families did not end with the ringing in of the New Year. They put the call out to the South Whidbey community to support the new Good Cheer Food Bank. The support of the South Whidbey community was immediate and has continued to this day. We take care of our own.
The last few years, we have teamed up with the Goose Grocer and PSE to purchase a turkey for every family who uses the Good Cheer Food Bank. The Goose Grocer set up a simple way to donate a turkey to Good Cheer without having to lug it around yourself. You can go into the Goose and tell the checker, “Please add a turkey for Good Cheer”. They will add $15 to your bill and your receipt should say “Good Cheer Turkey” Then, PSE will add another turkey to that donation, up to the first 40 turkeys.
Such a simple gesture will have a ripple affect across South Whidbey. When the younger kids are out of school for a whole week, you can feel good that their turkey dinner will help them to get through till Monday when they get back to school and hot lunches.
It is not always easy to stretch a budget to allow for the “extras” of the holiday season. Thanks to our frugal staff and volunteers, we figure out how to keep the Good Cheer in our holidays on South Whidbey.
We know when we sit down for our Thanksgiving dinner this month, we can give thanks for the ones who began the tradition and to those of you who help carry it on.