The Yakima Union Gospel Mission -- which has helped thousands of hungry local families and individuals over the years -- needs some help of its own now.

Donations are down lately, and the mission doesn't have enough food for Thanksgiving.

For the first time in a decade, food services director Debie Caryl says, the mission will have to tap money set aside to help the homeless other times of the year to cover the cost of about 50 turkeys and other traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

So they're hoping for a last-minute rescue from the community as they look for a way to feed the hundreds of homeless people at two planned dinners at the mission's cafeteria. They're also struggling to put together 500 Thanksgiving food boxes for needy local people.

They're asking Yakima Valley residents for donations of food -- or cash -- to help fill in the gaps.

As of Friday (Nov. 11), Caryl said the mission was in need of turkeys, boxes of stuffing, gravy mix, cranberries and Cool Whip topping for pies. She said workers plan to start packing the boxes Thursday and Friday (Nov. 17-18) so they can deliver the meals in time for Thanksgiving.

Anyone willing to help can drop off donations at the pantry or the main office of the mission, 1300 N. First St. in Yakima, weekdays between 7 a.m. and 3:30. Or they stop by the back door of the kitchen between 3 and 6:30 p.m.

For more information, contact Caryl at 509-248-4510.