WASILLA — Kids Kupboard staff and volunteers are hosting the annual Fall Feast event at the Wasilla Boys and Girls Club this Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m.
The public is invited to join in the holiday festivities and enjoy a free and full Thanksgiving meal with all the traditional side dishes. While this is a sit-down event, those who wish to bring their meals home for social distancing purposes are welcome to do so.
Kids Kupboard Founder and Executive Director Lynette Ortolano said this is a chance for anyone who is looking for a place to get in the holiday spirit with the company of other members of the community should stop in for a warm meal and even warmer welcome.
“We just want eve to come out and get a start on the holiday season and break some bread and be thankful with us,” Ortolano said.
Visitors and their families can fill up on their favorite holiday foods while socializing and winning various door prizes and raffles throughout the event. Ortolano said there will be several activity tables for the attending children.
“We often have really great attendance and people tend to look forward to it. I’m excited that we’re actually doing it again this year. It’s been difficult not to. So many agencies experimented with the drive-thru opportunity and those sorts of things, and I think that’s all well and good. There’s lots of agencies that served that purpose. For us, Kids Kupboard, it’s really important that we’re able to have families and welcome them in with us, and get together around the table to enjoy a meal,” Ortolano said.
According to Ortolano, the Kids Kupboard team created this event several years ago to simply support the community with a good, old-fashioned meal. She said they took a break from it during the last two years in light of the pandemic, but they’re all eager to put it on again.
“I get such a warm fuzzy when moms and dads can sit down and enjoy a meal. It just feels very homey. It just feels very right… I just like this time of year,” Ortolano said. “We have lots of blessings it’s not just bad. It’s not just COVID, illness, hunger, and all that stuff even though those things are very real. It’s a nice distraction with a really great Thanksgiving dinner, just to be thankful.”
Ortolano said this will be the last time they host the Fall Feast at the Boys and Girls Club. Starting next year, the event will occur within the new Kids Kupboard headquarters off Wasilla-Fishhook Road, near Shaw Elementary School. She said they’ve been partners with the Boys and Girls Club for over 14 years and this is far from the end of their collaboration.
“I just love them... That will always be home for us. We kind of grew up with them. I don’t think there will ever be a time when we are not connected in some way,” Ortolano said.
Kids Kupboard team members will be able to utilize a large commercial kitchen and even larger campus to feed and facilitate attendees of the 2022 Fall Feast. Ortolano said they’re making great progress in the kitchen and overall preparations around their new administrative office that acts as their base of operations, a milestone many years in the making with possibilities for growth abound.
“I always dreamed it and I still have to pinch myself every day,” Ortolano said with a laugh.
According to Ortolano, their overall operation is faring well in spite of continuous challenges such as paying out of pocket to maintain their mobile feeding program.
“It’s important. There’s hundreds of kids who don’t have access to school meals that they qualify for. We can’t just let them fall through the cracks,” Ortolano said. “The community has been great. They’ve been stepping up and helping us out getting through week-to-week.”
For more information about the Fall Feast or Kids Kupboard in general, visit their official Facebook page at facebook.com/KidsKupboard.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org