ANCHORAGE, Alaska — On a day when hundreds of people flocked to Central Lutheran Church in Anchorage for all the Thanksgiving fixings, one woman in line stood out in more ways than one: She was pregnant, in labor and wasn't leaving without her turkey.
A neighbor had brought her Monday evening to the annual Thanksgiving Blessing, as the big pre-holiday giveaway organized by the Food Bank of Alaska and area churches is known. People line up at churches all over town for everything they need for a feast at home.
Alan Budahl, the incoming executive director of Lutheran Social Services, was in his first day in his new job when the flustered man came up to him.
"Hey, I have my neighbor," the man told Budahl. "She's in labor, and she's in the line and she won't go to the hospital until she gets her food because she needs her Thanksgiving basket."
Budahl told the neighbor to bring the pregnant woman inside. She was breathing through contractions, he said.
"Shouldn't you be in the hospital?" Budahl asked.
"She said, 'I need this Thanksgiving basket. I do. I do. I do. If you don't get it today, you don't get it.' "
Budahl moved her to the front of the line, along with the neighbor, who was driving her to the hospital afterward.
"She was nice. You could tell, she must be having a contraction because the look on her face was, I need it now," Budahl said.