Each week, the largesse of local bakeries rolls into Nickelsville. French bread, olive loaves and English muffins are piled high on tables. An old bookshelf is filled with rolls and hot dog buns.
Fruits and vegetables -- a box of bagged greens, a can of peaches and six 10-pound cans of diced tomatoes -- make up a much smaller proportion of donations.
Bread: It's what's for dinner if you're homeless.
"Once in a blue moon we get some meat, but it's not very often," said Nickelsville resident Shellie Singleton.
Good luck finding so much as a stick of butter.
"There's really nothing to put on it," Singleton said of the bread.
At shelters, transitional housing and homeless encampments around King County, 'tis the season for a certain sort of food donation.
From now through Christmas, starches, carbohydrates and sugars will accumulate like snowdrifts.
The reason is simple: It's what's in store.
"A lot of bakeries just have a huge surplus of those empty calories," said Diane Carmel, executive chef for the Chicken Soup Brigade and the Lifelong Aids Alliance. "There's too much of it in the system already."
When people think of comforting others, they think of comfort food.
"You want to do something good, and what sounds good? Sweets," said Rolls Royce Martin, a Real Change vendor who stays at Compass Housing.
The overabundance can be bittersweet.
"It's not much of a treat if you get it every day, said Nickelsville resident Martina Dundas.
People with diabetes and other health problems often struggle to avoid eating items. In addition, the cache of carbs can be difficult to store. If Nickelsville residents have food in their tents, mice move in for the crumbs.
Waste is inevitable.
"I throw away a lot of bread," said Linda Biggs, 43, one of the encampment's kitchen coordinators.
Nickelsville recently received two coolers of frozen meat, and Biggs immediately gathered all the residents together and distributed the food.
Such donations can make a menu, resident Dundas said.
"When we do have canned meats, it opens up a big window for us to be able to cook a more wholesome meal," she said.
At Nickelsville, propane, gloves, jackets, pet food and canned meats are among the most desired donations.
At food banks, canned tuna or a jar of peanut butter makes a perfect present.
"It's very special for somebody who's getting that," said Acey Northwest Harvest. "If people can get away from the pie thing and move toward what's really going to be nutritious and sustainable, that's going to go a lot further."
Compass Housing and the YWCA guide donors to the most helpful items.
Last year, in December, Cathy MacCaul with the YMCA received a call from a Girl Scout troop that wanted to come sing carols and bring home-baked cookies to the residents.
"We said, 'Come and sing carols, but [YWCA residents] really want fresh fruit," MacCaul said.
While she appreciates holiday cheer, MacCaul reminds people it need not be confined to the holiday season:
"One of the things we're wanting people to do is think about that generosity throughout the year."