For Gerry CollieÃ¢ÂÂs family, helping those less fortunate has become as much a tradition as pumpkin pie.
For nearly 20 years, Collie has carved the turkeys for the annual community Thanksgiving dinner sponsored by the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen.
After a few years, his two daughters started helping with the Wednesday evening task. And this year, one of them is even driving home from graduate school in St. Louis to participate in the event, which provides a holiday meal to the needy.
The turkey will be served from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday at First Christian Church, 1000 Ky. Organizers expect about 200 people, and another 200 meals will be taken to those who call the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and request delivery through Project Lively.
Knowing he is helping others and seeing fellow volunteers is uplifting, Collie said.
Ã¢ÂÂThis is the one thing I can do that really puts me back in the holiday spirit,Ã¢ÂÂ he said.
HereÃ¢ÂÂs a look at other services provided this holiday season and ways to help others:
Ã¢ÂÂ¢ The Christmas Bureau received more than 500 applications from families in need, and many still are available for adoption. Individuals and organizations interested in helping a less-fortunate family can contact the Penn House, Ballard Community Center, the East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corp., Pelathe Center, Douglas County Senior Services or the Salvation Army. Adopting a family involves providing a new outfit and gift for each member, as well as a Christmas dinner or restaurant gift certificate.
The poor economy and high unemployment rates caused an increase in the number of applicants this year, said Chip Blaser, development director for Ballard Community Center.
Ã¢ÂÂThereÃ¢ÂÂs a lot of people who are in need right now,Ã¢ÂÂ he said, adding that only one-third of the centerÃ¢ÂÂs applicants had been adopted. Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂre not usually this far behind.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂ¢ The Ballard Community Center is also working with Kansas UniversityÃ¢ÂÂs Black Law Students Assn. to plan a Thanksgiving meal for 38 families. Volunteers are needed to put the meals together, and those interested can call 842-0729.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢ ECKAN plans to provide Thanksgiving food baskets to its clients but will consider serving others in need, said human service coordinator Debbie Hamlin. To request a food basket, call 841-3357. Those interested in helping with food or gift deliveries can call the same number. The corporation is also gearing up for Ã¢ÂÂWarm Hearts,Ã¢ÂÂ an annual program to help the poor with their heating bills. Those in need of assistance can apply near the end of December.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢ The Salvation Army will accept applications to The Toy Shop Dec. 2-13. The shop, at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds and opened in conjunction with Toys for Tots, provides low-income families a place to buy affordable toys and clothes for their children.
The Salvation Army is also working with Scotch Fabric Care Services on Ã¢ÂÂShare the Warmth.Ã¢ÂÂ Families can choose from a variety of donated coats from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 6, and 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 7 at the Scotch Plaza, 1525 W. Sixth St.
The Salvation Army is distributing Thanksgiving baskets through Wednesday and plans to take gifts to area care centers, said Judy Forney, who directs the organization with her husband Richard.
A free holiday meal for low-income and homeless individuals is planned for Dec. 4 in the gymnasium of the Salvation Army, 946 N.H., and a Christmas Eve party is also planned at the shelter.
Forney said those interested in volunteering could call 843-4188. Donations are also requested for those in the shelter.