300 local families given turkey dinners
By Carrie A. Mizell
“The economy has hurt a lot of people in this county and it tried to hurt us, but God pulled us through,” said Suzi Wright, a Gilchrist Sheriff’s Volunteer.
Wright, or “Miss Suzi,” as she goes by, is one of a dozen Sheriff’s Volunteers who work to see that local families in need have a Thanksgiving meal.
This year the effects of the economy threatened to dampen the Thanksgiving basket giveaway when the Sheriff’s Volunteers’ largest contributor announced two weeks ago that they would be unable to assist with this year’s giveaway.
After hearing the bad news, the Sheriff’s Volunteers feared they would only be able to provide needy families with a turkey this year rather than enough food for an entire meal.
“We just weren’t sure we would be able to get any dry goods,” explained Milli Blalock, a Sheriff’s Volunteer. “But by the grace of God we were able.”
The Sheriff’s Volunteers kicked up their efforts.
Wright said she called Bell Elementary School and asked school officials to send a flyer home with students announcing that food would be collected the following week.
The flyer went out on Friday, Nov. 11, and food began pouring in the following week. According to Wright, the school collected over 300 pounds of food for the Thanksgiving baskets in one week.
“We’re so proud of all the students for collecting that much food,” Wright said. “All I can say is, ‘Go little bulldogs!”’
Through canned food drives and financial donations the Sheriff’s Volunteers were able to provide Thanksgiving baskets which included: a 10 to 12 pound turkey, green beans, corn, stuffing, mashed potatoes, danish, cookies, bread, macaroni and cheese, snack mix, and rice.
The Sheriff’s Volunteers packed bags filled with food on Friday and distribution began Monday at 9 a.m. By 9:15 a.m. 12 local families had already picked up their Thanksgiving baskets at the Sheriff’s gun range.
“God bless you and have a great Thanksgiving,” Wright said, as people who had waited in line out front filed into the building one at a time.
There are no real qualifications to receive a Thanksgiving basket, other than recipients must live in Gilchrist County. Names of families in need are provided by local schools, churches, and daycare centers. Residents can also call the Sheriff’s Volunteers and simply say they are in need of a Thanksgiving meal.
“This year I’ve had four people call me after receiving our letters and say they don’t need a Thanksgiving basket because their situation has improved,” Blalock said.
When the distribution ends on Wednesday at noon, Wright explained that any remaining food will be given to the Senior Citizens’ Food Pantry in Trenton.
“This is all about helping others,” Wright said. “That’s what we are all committed to.”