01/01/09 — Red Cross and Butterball provide New Year's meal

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Red Cross and Butterball provide New Year's meal

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on January 1, 2009 1:46 PM

More than 100 local needy people had a traditional New Year's ham dinner today at the Community Soup Kitchen, thanks to the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross and Butterball.

The hams were donated by the CAPS group of Butterball during a Dec. 9 blood drive. CAPS is the employee charity group at Butterball.

"This was the fourth year that CAPS gave us hams," said Tammy Forrester, health and safety director of the Red Cross. "Each year at a blood drive in December, the group donates a ham to the Red Cross for every person who gives blood."

This year there were 26 blood donors, which meant 26 hams.

"Even though economic times were bad this year, they didn't hesitate to give us the hams," Mrs. Forrester said.

Butterball asks the Red Cross to work with an agency in the community that helps needy families.

"We thought that with an increase in the number of people being fed at the Soup Kitchen that it would be a good place to donate the hams," said Mrs. Forrester.

"The need was there. The needy families were there. What a better way to give back to the community."

Mrs. Forrester said that the Red Cross asks for help so much throughout the year, so it was good to be able to give back and help somebody else.

"We were very blessed to get them," said Doricia Benton, director of the Soup Kitchen. "My cook is going to use them for a New Year's Day dinner, along with black-eyed peas, cornbread -- the standard food for the start of the year."

Ms. Benton said numbers are very high at the Soup Kitchen. The last day of 2008, it served 132 people.

"The average at the beginning of the year was around 65 and 75," said Ms. Benton. "Now we're at 100 for an average."

Christmas Day also saw more people than usual -- 108. Ms. Benton said that two years ago that number was between 50 and 55.

"It definitely doubled," she said.

Although other food donated to the Soup Kitchen also were used for the New Year's Day dinner, Ms. Benton said it was nice to have the hams, too.

This year, the Soup Kitchen didn't have room to store the hams, so the Red Cross contacted some local restaurants and Applebee's stored them for about a week.