Families in need will be able to have a happy Thanksgiving thanks to two local food pantries.
Proclaiming Grace Outreach in Barhamsville and the West Point Mobile Food Pantry hold food pantry events year round, but they report an increased need for their services during the holidays.
Proclaiming Grace Outreach holds a Thanksgiving-specific food pantry, complete with all the fixings for families. It is the organization’s biggest food pantry of the year and has been held since the organization was founded 10 years ago, according to Proclaiming Grace Outreach food pantry director Jim Crouse.
The food pantry has served 96 families and 283 people this year, and has given away 88 turkeys for Thanksgiving. The turkeys, which would have cost $827 from Walmart, were paid for with community donations, according to Crouse.
The Thanksgiving food pantry is made possible because of community donations and the statewide food donation Feed More program, which provides food supplies to community organizations and families in need.
In West Point, the West Point Minister’s Association, in partnership with the Good Neighbor Center and the Feed More program, holds a mobile food pantry in town the third Thursday of every month, according to association president Matt Cox. The Thanksgiving pantry was held Nov. 15.
“We usually provide groceries for 130-140 families, in November we average about 160,” said Cox.
Like other food pantries, the association and Good Neighbor Center see an increase in donations and need for food, supplies and clothing around the holiday season.
The Proclaiming Grace Thanksgiving food pantry, held Nov. 16, served single people as well as families. Those in need got their choice of turkey or chicken, as well as their choice of sausage, chicken strips or venison. They also selected Thanksgiving staples such as gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin puree and cranberry sauce.
There was a bag full of local produce, including sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, collard greens, onions, cucumbers and apples for each family, as well as hygiene items such as laundry detergent, dish soap and deodorant.
About 20 volunteers worked at the food pantry as adults and children checked in, received their canned and shelved items, hygiene items, meat and produce.
Volunteers bagged produce in the large mobile walk-in freezer, while others placed bags in carts and loaded food into cars. They smiled and exchanged jokes and banter as they worked. Most volunteers were regulars, and they greeted food pantry attendees with smiles and wished them a happy Thanksgiving.
In order to qualify for the food pantry, residents must fill out eligibility forms, according to pantry coordinator Lee Davis.
“They have to be residents of New Kent County and have to meet an income requirement,” he said. The monthly income requirement ranges between $1,448-$5,050.
Davis said she looks forward to the Thanksgiving food pantry every year and loves giving families a chance to have a nice holiday season.
“The community has donated so much and we truly couldn’t do it without their support,” Davis said.
Volunteer Paul Morrison started volunteering with the organization after seeing their great efforts when he took his mother-in-law to the Thanksgiving pantry. He has been a volunteer for two years.
“When I saw everyone working together to help the community, I knew I wanted to step up and do my part,” he said. “It’s just amazing. The fact that we can give residents all of this fresh produce through donations from the community blows my mind.”
Morrison cracked jokes with the others working in the mobile walk in food freezer and said you have to joke around when you work at such a fast pace.
Crouse said the organization finds the need for food, clothing and other supplies increases during the holidays.
“This is our biggest event and we serve more people every year. That’s what it’s about, helping our community. Helping them year round, but especially during the holidays where it’s a time of giving and being thankful.”
New Kent resident Ronette Moody, who received food from the Thanksgiving pantry, said it goes a long way for her family.
“I have three daughters and seven grandchildren. I’ve come here the past years and it really does help,” Moody said. “We can actually enjoy our Thanksgiving and not have to worry about affording food.”
Eberette Williams, who also received supplies from the Thanksgiving pantry, said receiving the supplies helps him and his family.
“I have been disabled since the 80s and I have a large family of seven,” Williams said. “This helps us save money not just at Thanksgiving, but in the long run as well. It is definitely appreciated and means so much to us. The community is amazing.”
Want to help?
» Proclaiming Grace Outreach: Visit pgova.com or call 757-741-5070
» West Point Minister’s Association: Call West Point Christian Church at 804-843-3185
» Good Neighbor Center: Call 804-843-4339
Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, firstname.lastname@example.org or @ashleyrluck on Twitter