This Thanksgiving, 350 families will dine on turkey dinners with all the trimmings from lovingly prepared boxes of food on Friday, November 18 at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in North Minneapolis.
This was the 13th year the church has raised funds for Thanksgiving food for those in need. Taking place on Saturday, November 19, it was by far the biggest giveaway, both in the number of families served and the number of community volunteers who joined with church members to tackle the work of packing all those boxes.
“We have never had so many people come to volunteer. It’s the best turnout we’ve ever seen. I’m flabbergasted,” said Stephanie Maggitt, who leads the Thanksgiving giveaway for the church. “Last year we gave out 220 boxes and we thought that was a lot. This year we are doing 130 more so we are delighted with the help.
Church member and media personality Sheletta Brundidge appealed to employees of companies she partners with on her podcasting platform, SHElettaMakesMeLaugh.com to participate. Volunteers from HyVee, Bremer Bank, Clear Channel Outdoors, General Mills, Comcast and UnitedHealthcare joined the assembly line of helping hands who prepared the gift.
“Sheletta invited us over and when she calls I show up,” said Dan Ballard of Clear Channel Outdoors. “It’s a great way to get in the holiday mood.”
“Our business purpose is to create thriving communities and what better way to do that than to join forces and give a little help,” said Mike Rose, senior communications specialist at Bremer Bank.
Stacey Nelson-Kumar, director of community impact for Comcast, got her kids to join her in volunteering. “Comcast supports the communities where our customers and employees live and work. We are lucky to have the opportunity to give back to them,” she said.
The church bought the food from Hy-Vee, and the grocery store delivered all the produce — and all those turkeys — for free. “Being in the food business, it’s important for us to partner with organizations like Fellowship Church to help eliminate food insecurity,” said Mike Graham, Store Manager at Robbinsdale Hy-Vee.
Along with a 12-16 pound turkey and a disposable pan to roast it in, each box contained stuffing, potatoes and gravy, buns, cornbread, green beans, cranberries and a dessert, as well as basic ingredients such as rice, beans and macaroni and cheese.
Many boxes also contained a copy of one of the picture books Brundidge wrote.
The variety and amount of food in the boxes came as an impressive surprise to Brian O’Hara, who was sworn in as Minneapolis’ new police chief earlier this month. “I’m blown away. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Chef O’Hara said. than that. It’s amazing.”
The Chief was accompanied by several uniformed officers as well as Minnesota State Troopers and Hennepin County Sheriff’s Deputies who brought the filled boxes to people queuing to receive them.
“With the high price of groceries, we had more families wanting to participate this year,” said Stephanie Maggit. “Even so, there were people we had to turn away.”
She hopes that this Thanksgiving, other corporate sponsors will join in with contributions from church members to serve even more needy people in the community.