After 20 years volunteering with the Community Assistance Program’s (CAP) Thanksgiving Basket program, director Shirley Tobian has decided this year will be her last.
Tobian was volunteering with the Semiahmoo Women’s Club and Blaine Scholarship Foundation when former Thanksgiving Basket director Brent Brentnall invited her to assist with the annual program. Tobian said she fell in love with the program when she began in 2003, and eventually became director.
“I’ll miss the volunteers and seeing the people and the smiles on their faces,” Tobian said. “It’s very rewarding.”
Tobian’s duties as director gear up in August and reach about 300 volunteer hours each year after she creates a food list, orders groceries, takes reservations, organizes volunteers, writes donor letters and thank you notes, and more.
A group of community members and North Whatcom Fire and Rescue (NWFR) firefighters then distribute a couple of hundred baskets with Thanksgiving fixings a few days before the holiday.
“It runs like a clock,” Tobian said. “I think that’s what made me be able to stay at the program for as long as I have.”
NWFR lieutenant Mike Nelson has volunteered with the program since 1999, when he learned about the program after inspecting a Blaine restaurant where the program started. Nelson enlisted the help of NWFR firefighters over the years.
“It’s a huge undertaking,” Nelson said of Tobian’s work. “She does a huge part of the organizing. It’s invaluable.”
Nelson said he’ll always remember Tobian as well-organized and steadfast.
“She has to hold a tight line to make it all work,” he said. “We call her the general or the sergeant.”
After finishing her time with the Thanksgiving Basket program, Tobian said she’ll remain involved with CAP, volunteering one week per month with its crisis assistance program.
“It’s a community effort, and in Blaine, we are very lucky that we are a community that cares,” she said. “I’m very grateful for being able to be
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Tuesday, November 21, 2023 Report this