Kendall Jones, a coordinator for MUST Ministries in Cherokee, said the organization expects to feed roughly 4,000 people this Thanksgiving through their food basket program.
“This is a wonderful ministry to those in need,” Jones said. “(It gives) families something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. Without our community, we would simply not be able to do this.”
The program helps to provide local families with Thanksgiving dinner, and Jones said the organization is preparing to feed about 20 percent more people than last year.
“What we do is clients can register in advance to receive a box or bag of food that contains all the trimmings for Thanksgiving dinner,” Jones said. “Our most pressing need right now is for mashed potatoes and gravy. Packets or jars of gravy and packets of mashed potatoes, and then turkeys.”
Jones said that the majority of donations came in this week, but the organization is still accepting donations for the Thanksgiving program. Monetary donations are always welcome as well, Jones said.
“We are aiming to serve 1,000 families, and that takes 15,000 food items to fill 1,000 orders,” Jones said. “(This) week we will actually be assembling the bags, so if anyone is interested in volunteering and helping with that, they can contact the office.”
Other items that will be included in the Thanksgiving food baskets include items like boxed macaroni and cheese, cornbread mix and stuffing, along with canned green beans, corn, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and frozen pies and turkeys.
Jones said that anyone with questions, or who wishes to find out the best way to drop off donations, can call the main phone number for MUST Cherokee, at (770) 479-5397. Donations can be dropped off at the Canton location, at 111 Brown Industrial, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Jones said.
Friday, Nov. 22 is
the cutoff for registration to receive a food box, Jones said. To register, people will need to stop by the MUST Ministries building in Canton between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on a weekday, and bring a photo ID for themselves, proof of Cherokee County residency and a valid original ID for anyone in their household.
Last year, MUST Cherokee fed 883 families, or roughly 3,200 individuals, and Jones said the organization has seen an increase in registration for the program this year.
“The smallest family we have is one, the largest family is 15. I was doing the math in my head from last year. If we had 883 families and it was roughly 3,200 people, if we have 1,000 this year, that’s roughly a 20 percent increase,” Jones said. “Close to 4,000 people this year.”
Distribution of the MUST Cherokee food boxes happens the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, on Nov. 25, 26 and 27.
MUST Cherokee also takes donations of clothing, as well as breads and sweets, and non-perishables for their year-round assistance program.
Lynne Saunders, founder of the Papa’s Pantry organization, is collecting turkeys and non-perishable food items for it’s holiday program.
Saunders said since the food bank is low on food right now, turkeys and fresh Thanksgiving foods will first go to members of their partnership program, which is a family stability and food program.
“Our shelves, hopefully, will be stocked with the right things that they’ll need for their Thanksgivings,” Saunders said. “Because we’re year-round, we are constantly working with new families who are finding themselves in crisis, or people we discover who are there, and so it’s a process of working with them to get them back on their feet.”
Saunders is hoping that Papa’s Pantry gets “super blessed” this Thanksgiving, and is able to help more people who need assistance.
The organization is looking for donations of perishable items for Thanksgiving, including new frozen turkeys, white and sweet potatoes, apples, oranges, onions and celery.
They are also asking for boxed or bagged items such as stuffing and instant mashed potatoes, and other items such as canned sweet potatoes, cream of mushroom soup, canned crunchy onions, canned milk, pickles, olives, cooking oil, sugar, flour, crackers, chips, cookies, canned fruit, pumpkin, salad dressing, disposable turkey pans and plastic storage bags.
Besides providing families with Thanksgiving food items, Papa’s Pantry is also in need of general food items for their pantry.
“If it comes in a grocery store, we would sure love to have it donated. We always take monetary donations like most nonprofits do, but we use the dollars to buy the nutritional meat, the cheese, milk, important things,” Saunders said.
Saunders said Papa’s Pantry always anticipates an annual increase in need starting in October, but this year the demand is larger than expected and the organization’s shelves are lower than usual.
“It’s always a busier time; winter months are expensive for families. They’re buying bigger coats for their kids, they’re heating their houses, they’ve got the holidays coming up; really there’s an annual cycle with the food need and expectation,” she said.
Although the organization has locations in Woodstock and Canton, Saunders said donations should go to the Woodstock location to be checked and sorted.
Saunders said donations can be dropped off during their regular hours at the organization’s Woodstock location at 6551 Commerce Parkway, Suite 200, in Woodstock. Online donations can be made at http://papaspantry.org/donate-now/.
Papa’s Pantry is open Mondays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Papa’s Pantry will be closed from Nov. 27, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, through Sunday, Dec. 1, so anyone with donations or families in need of assistance should be sure to go by before the closing.
For more information, the Woodstock location of Papa’s Pantry can be reached at (770) 591-4730, and the Canton branch can be reached at (770) 479-0729.