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Former food bank recipient now helping others in need with Home Team Harvest

Jan Still is a longtime Home Team Harvest volunteer whose first experience was from the other side of the program – as a recipient.

SEATTLE — Jan Still has been volunteering with Northwest Harvest for almost two decades. She is one of the most positive and recognizable faces who help collect millions of meals every winter for local families in need.

But her first experience with the organization was much different. She was the one who needed help.

“It was 1981,” Still recalled. “I was a receiver of the services from Northwest Harvest, and that was such a good experience for me. When you have to go to a food bank, something that no one really ever wants to do… And to be treated nicely and not have to give your entire life story to someone really made a huge difference for me. And after that, then I became involved with my son and his Cub Scouts troop. We started in the early ‘80s, and we started making Thanksgiving baskets with all the kids, and it just kind of morphed from there. I have been doing Home Team Harvest for 19 years. I missed the first year, actually, but the rest of the years I've been there every single year at Redmond Town Center. It's near and dear to my heart.”

Still said she has continually been inspired by younger volunteers who have braved the cold weather on the first Saturday of every December.

“Year after year, the little kids who would come with their piggy banks, or their (coins) in a little bag, and just listening to their stories,” Still told KING 5. “And at that young of an age, the impact that it has… They are going to be our future, and they're going to be out there helping. And to me, that is very heartwarming.”

Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, there will be no “single donation Saturday” in December 2020, which is why Still is hoping people recognize the magnitude of the statewide need.

“This is this has been a rough year for everybody,” said Still. “There are a lot more people at the food bank now. People who have given (donations) every year, maybe this year is the time, instead of going to Costco and filling up your pickup truck, take those funds and give them to Northwest Harvest. They can purchase a lot more food than you and I can, with cash, because of the volume that they purchase food. Now's the time when we really need to come together. Northwest Harvest is a statewide Food Bank, and we need to do what we can to help those in need. Because that could be any one of us at any time.”

How to support Home Team Harvest

There are four ways you can help support KING 5's efforts to raise 20 million meals through Home Team Harvest.

Donate online: Give online to Northwest Harvest.

Text to donate: Text HOMETEAM to 41444 to give.

Buy a virtual hunger bag: Visit your local Safeway or Albertsons store and buy a virtual hunger bag for $5, $10 or $15.

Watch the broadcast special: On Saturday, Dec. 5 at 10 a.m., tune in to KING 5 for a one-hour special as we celebrate 20 years of Home Team Harvest.