Churches, businesses prepare to feed 2,000 families in need this Thanksgiving

RICHMOND, Va. -- Dozens of churches, businesses and community partners are joining forces to make this Thanksgiving holiday a good one for some families in need.

A planning team has been working behind the scenes for months, collecting Thanksgiving food items.

Thursday, November 21st, the public is invited to the Arthur Ashe Center to pick up a complimentary Thanksgiving meal.

Cans of corn, rows of cake mix and boxes of stuffing are adding up. Gina Whitaker, Cannon’s nonprofit GWC Ministries is all in. “My organization is responsible for raising seven hundred boxes of stuffing and we have surpassed that,” Cannon said.

Greta Randolph with St. Paul’s Baptist Church says it will all come in handy this week when the Arthur Ashe Center opens it’s doors for Operation Harvest, serving more than two thousand families. Anyone in need of a meal can just stop by with a picture ID. There are no income restrictions.

“They check-in and it's set up like a grocery store. You shop and you have a shopping buddy to help. They’ll also help you get your things to your car,” Randolph added.

Sixty different organizations, churches, businesses, sororities and other donors collected specific food item. Staff members at the Richmond Justice Center collected more than one thousand cans of corn. Members of the Henrico Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Inc. have been collecting dozens and dozens of boxes of cake mix. St. Paul’s Baptist Church is donating the turkeys.

Richmond Sheriff Antionette Irving says her staff is humbled to just be a blessing to others. “We hope our staff members will see that we are doing our part. We are part of the city. Most of us are here every day involved with those families that are left outside. We want to make sure we take care of the family members while their loved ones are here incarcerated,” Irving explained.

Other community partners say it’s all about uplifting and assisting. Rev. Sherman Logan with the First Unitarian Universalist Church says he believes it’s a great opportunity to serve with other faith leaders in our area. He says their church is supporting the RVA Community Thanksgiving Distribution through a monetary donation. They also plan to send some congregants to volunteer on Thursday as families stop by to shop for their Thanksgiving meals.

“A sense of sharing and giving back to the community. We are doing ministry. Basically, ministry service and you need to have a title behind your name to do ministry,” Rev. Logan explained. Randolph says participating in this year’s event is important to her church family.

“God called us to care for people. That's our mandate. We have Thanksgiving every year and people can't get to Creighton Road because there's no bus, so we have to go to the community where the people are,” Randolph added.

This Thursday, November 21, doors open at 4:00 p.m. and the meal distribution runs through 8:00 p.m. at the Arthur Ashe Center on Arthur Ashe Boulevard.

Randolph says anyone who is in need of a meal can show up and get one if they present an ID with an address in order to ensure that only one meal is given to each household.

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