Charities prepare holiday meals for local needy families
By Becky Barclay and Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on November 27, 2013 1:46 PM
Wayne Country Day School fifth-grade teacher Dena Creger bastes the turkey that will be served during the Thanksgiving lunch Thursday at the Soup Kitchen. For the last six years Mrs. Creger and her fifth-grade students have been volunteering on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving lunch will be served Thursday at 11 a.m. and will include turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, collards, yams, rolls and pies.
Lorene Beamon stuffs a box full of canned goods, cake mix and a turkey to help needy and homeless families in Wayne County have a happy Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving food boxes will be given out today at the Community Crisis Center.
Two days before Thanksgiving, the Community Soup Kitchen hit a record.
"We had 208 people show up. That is the most we have ever had in one day in the 30 years we have been open," director Dorcia Benton said.
The Soup Kitchen normally serves about 150 people a day.
And with the Thanksgiving holiday meal planned for 11 a.m. Thursday, and an expected count of at least 175, Mrs. Benton said the organization, which provides meals to some of the area's neediest, is bracing just in case.
She said she thinks there is enough food to feed everyone who might come to the Soup Kitchen on Thanksgiving, but then it will be time to think about the next holiday, Christmas, and beyond.
But for right now, it is all about the turkey.
"We are getting through Thanksgiving first," she said.
Anyone who wants to bring a last-minute donation to the Soup Kitchen, which is located at 112 Oak Church St., can contribute paper products and food items, as well as clothing and linens, anytime today.
Many local organizations have already assisted with the preparations for the holiday meal -- including Precision Plumbing, which is also helping cook, preparing meals its employees will deliver to the Soup Kitchen in time for the holiday gathering, which runs from 11 a.m. until noon.
The Soup Kitchen has been serving Thanksgiving dinner for the past 32 years, and, for the past six, has also been providing diners with a take-out meal to eat later.
"Not everybody has family members or grandmother's house to go to," Ms. Benton said. "I think it's nice for them to have that extra meal. Most people are going here and there to so many places, and the people who come here have nowhere to go. Some don't even have a home, much less a place to sit down and eat their dinner."
But the Soup Kitchen is not the only place to celebrate Thanksgiving.
The Salvation Army's Men's Shelter will have a turkey dinner, too -- courtesy of donations from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
It will consist of turkey, dressing and all the trimmings, Salvation Army Commander Lt. Kenny Igleheart said.
"Our staff will prepare the meals," Igleheart said. "The Salvation Army does this every year."
Both Igleheart and his wife, Julie, will spend Thanksgiving Day with the residents in the men's shelter.
"We want to provide a home atmosphere for them as much as we can," Igleheart said. "We want to make sure they have a taste of Thanksgiving. They are thankful to be here and have a roof over their heads."
Some organizations are not serving a meal, but rather giving people packed boxes and baskets that will enable them to provide a home-cooked meal for their families.
The Community Crisis Center has been giving out Thanksgiving meals since 1984 -- first as an option for shut-ins and those without a place to go for the holiday meal, one of the first in the county, and now with boxes designed for families who are struggling.
"The past four years, we have been doing food baskets and boxes that we hand out to families in the community," said Carolyn Buffalo, the center's secretary. "The boxes contain everything a person would need to prepare a Thanksgiving meal -- turkey, rice, dressing, cranberry sauce, string beans, sweet potatoes and a box cake mix and icing for dessert. We don't do a bread."
Ms. Buffalo said the Community Crisis Center doesn't solicit names for the food boxes because of the limited donations it receives. Requests come from people who go to the center's soup kitchen to eat.
The food boxes will be given out today.
"Everyone is really appreciative of the food boxes," Ms. Buffalo said. "Most of the families consist of children, and it's something they look forward to. And it enables them to have a complete turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day.
"We've been doing this so long. It's just a mission of the center to meet basic human needs for individuals. We are blessed to be able to bless someone else."
The North Carolina Poverty Coalition in Dudley gave out its Thanksgiving food baskets for the third year Tuesday.
The nonprofit doesn't require an application from anyone needing a basket, but instead, executive director Spencer Phillips invites anyone who doesn't have funds for a turkey this Thanksgiving -- senior, disabled or otherwise -- to head down to the organization's headquarters, located at 309 Potts Road in Dudley, for bags of holiday meals.
Normally, the group hands out more than 100 Thanksgiving meals, which it gets through the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, shipped from Raleigh.
But the number of meals is up from last year.
Phillips said the need for food has gone up over the last year, especially after software problems plagued handouts through North Carolina's food stamp program.