Anchorage — 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: 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 yams, cranberry sauce, potatoes, apples, stuffing, gravy mix, pie, rolls, vegetables, and a turkey and a roaster -- 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 a flustered man approached 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."
"I said, 'Well, what do you mean, in labor?' "
"Literally. She's in labor. You'll see it," the man answered.
Budahl told him 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.
So how did it turn out? In all the commotion, no one got her name or which hospital she was going to.