Thankful seniors: Center distributes 1,000 meals in a bag
FLORENCE, S.C. – Thanksgiving dinner frequently is a major production. For approximately 1,000 Florence County senior citizens, it was well beyond a major production long before the cooking even started.
Senior Citizens Association of Florence County employees arranged for the food quite some time before Thursday, and 14 students from Faith Christian Academy in Florence turned out to pack 1,000 “Thanksgiving Blessings” with canned food and cornbread stuffing. Bags that on Friday would be united with a frozen hen and then distributed to seniors.
“It’s amazing what sixth through eighth graders can do when you give them the opportunity,” said Pamela Jacobs, RSVP (retired and senior volunteer program) director said as she supervised the Faith Christian students Thursday. Her job was to make sure the bags were double tied as they came in and were stacked ahead of distribution.
“This is is our sixth year doing this for a service project, mission work ,” said Amy Turbeville who teaches sixth-eighth grade at the school. “We’re doing it to feed area lock-ins, shut-ins or anyone who needs a Thanksgiving meal.”
What the students lacked in organization, they more than made up for in enthusiasm as teachers called upon students to make sure the right combination of cans ended up in the bags. “Yams and greens, yams and greens” was an oft-heard discussion as the bags moved along the assembly line.
Outside the over-stuffed packing room a steady parade of filled bags processed out into the cavernous multipurpose room at the Leatherman Senior Citizens Center in Florence. Piles of bags quickly built along two walls in the room along with cases of canned goods that would be used Friday to supplement the distribution.
The canned goods were all donated by McCall Farms. The cornbread stuffing was purchased from a Pee Dee grocer, and the hens were kept frozen in trailers donated by REFCON Refrigeration and Construction.
For Thursday’s distribution, staff from the senior center teamed up with community volunteers and a handful of Wilson High School students to load approximately 500 meals in a little more than 40 minutes.
The 10 a.m. distribution started out with the center’s parking lot filled to capacity, and then some, and a line that ran from the intake desk in the multi-purpose room to the front entry.
By 10:40 the line was gone, as were approximately half of the prepared meal that left with Meals on Wheels volunteers, church volunteers, recipients, neighbors, family and friends of the recipients.
“I love it. Love it. It’s something I love doing. I have no problem doing it,” said Carroll Bonner with Savannah Grove Baptist Church as he loaded the church van with frozen hens. “They need somebody to look out for them and do stuff they can’t do for themselves.”
Bonner, with 10 meals in hand, said many people who were receiving the “Thanksgiving Blessings” probably would go without were it not for the meals.
Of the seniors in line, many welcomed the meal because it would be the only one they would have, while others planned a big meal with their family and would use theirs to augment their food in the days to follow.
Thursday and Friday’s distributions were the 11th year of the program, which was started by the late Florence City Councilman Bill Bradham and Florence businessman Bubby Floyd.