Needy families get boxes to help with holiday dinner
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 26, 2008 1:46 PM
Gaspar Gonzalez, right, helps Brogden Primary School social worker Brenda Ward load a Thanksgiving dinner into her car. Mrs. Ward was one of many who picked up a meal on behalf of a needy Wayne County family Tuesday at the Hispanic Community Development Center in Dudley.
Pam Sheffield knows a few families who might have gone without a turkey dinner Thursday.
The Carver Elementary School social worker sees real need every day.
But with the help of some local businesses, members of the Dudley-based Hispanic Com-munity Development Center provided her with three Thanksgiving meals with all the trimmings Tuesday -- frozen turkeys, canned vegetables, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and more -- meals that are now en route to hungry children and struggling parents.
"One family got burned out of (their home)," Mrs. Sheffield said. "We wanted to make sure they had something."
And in another, a single mother was trying to provide for "a lot of little ones."
"This just makes it easier for mom," she said. "We know the money is low."
HCDC director Tammy Cartagena said requests from Wayne County schools, the Social Services Department and concerned neighbors resulted in 65 meal donations this year -- a record high for the non-profit.
"We're just trying to do the basic Thanksgiving meal," she said. "After that, we throw in whatever else we have."
The turkeys were courtesy of Butterball and Case Farms.
And Mt. Olive Pickle Co. donated a few jars of dills for each box.
Everything else came from the center's pantry -- a donor-stocked closet full of everything from soda to spices.
"It's been a true community effort," Mrs. Cartagena said.
Brenda Ward is also a school social worker.
She characterized the HCDC as "awesome" for sending her back to Brogden Primary School with nine meals Tuesday afternoon.
"A lot of our families are displaced. They are homeless as defined by the law," she said. "They are just not able to afford things like this."
So when they receive their box, each family, she said, is sure to light up.
"This is important to us," Mrs. Ward said. "We want all our families to have a Thanksgiving."
But the giving won't stop after the holiday season, Mrs. Cartagena said.
In fact, the center provides food and services to the needy year-round.
"We tried to keep the pantry pretty stocked up," Mrs. Cartagena said.
Those who wish to donate money, time or non-perishables for the pantry can contact the center at 736-0312 or stop by the Hispanic Community Development Center headquarters at 309 Potts Road in Dudley.
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