ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic has led record numbers of people to need support from nonprofits, and with the need still high this holiday season, organizations are hoping to see the community once again rally to meet the needs of its neighbors.

At Bean’s Cafe, while continuing to church out daily meals for the homeless staying at the Sullivan Arena, the Children’s Lunchbox and other partner organizations, the nonprofit is already looking ahead to Christmas.

“So some of our biggest needs right now, we’re trying to collect hams for Christmas,” Lisa Sauder, executive director at Bean’s Cafe said. “So we’re very interested in any kind of ham. It can be a whole ham, a sliced ham, a spiral ham, any kind of ham is great. We also need root vegetables and green vegetables. Canned vegetables are always really important for us. And we need some breakfast items for Children’s Lunchbox for our pantry program.”

In addition to the year-round nonprofits, special programs to help those in need are also looking for community support this year.

The Anchorage Home Builders Association’s Shoe Box program has been providing clothes, toys and other goodies to students in the Anchorage School District identified as being in need for more than two decades.

This year, the program is trying to provide backpacks stuffed with supplies for more than 1,000 students.

“We weren’t quite sure going into the pandemic if the need was going to be greater or less and what that looked like, and it turns out that the need was still there. And it has been more challenging for us to facilitate all of this, but because it’s so important to us we’ve just stayed dedicated and moving forward,” Kyle Mirka with Anchorage Home Builders Association said.

Currently, about half of the students that have been identified by the school district have been sponsored.

“We need the community’s help too, this year especially, because we can’t shoulder all the need by ourselves,” Mirka said. “So we’re asking anybody who can, to call the office and be a sponsor. We recognize that some families, some individuals want to take those backpacks and physically go to the store and stuff them full of stuff. Others may not have the time to do that but still want to be generous, and so that those folks just call the office and donate $50 per backpack, that helps us to go to the store on their behalf and shop for those kids and stuff those backpacks.”

Anyone wanting to learn more about sponsoring a child for the Shoebox Program can call AHBA at (907) 522-3605.

People wanting to help support Bean’s Cafe and the Children’s Lunchbox can donate online or drop off donations between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 1101 E. 3rd Ave.

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