Filling hunger's void

Each year, area aid groups feed thousands of people in need on Thanksgiving Day.

This year is no different, and local churches, ministries and organizations anticipate feeding record numbers this week.

“The need keeps growing, so the support and giving keeps growing,” said Roger Baker, executive director for Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministries (CCM).

For the past several years, CCM has given away hundreds of Thanksgiving food baskets to the needy. Teaming up with Galaxy Food Stores this year, the ministry anticipates handing out more than 600 food baskets to residents throughout Catawba County.

“There will be about 640 turkeys distributed to needy families this year,” Baker said. “Last year, we did around 400 — the need is that much greater."

Galaxy Food Stores announced a campaign to help CCM in October and has sold $10 “fixin bag” donations at its three store locations in Hickory and Maiden. Each time a customer purchased a “fixin bag” containing corn, sweet potatoes, stuffing and soup, Galaxy gave the ministry a turkey.

On Wednesday, CCM will distribute the “fixin bags” and turkeys to county residents at its dock on 1st Avenue in Hickory.

“They are getting about a $50 bag of groceries for free,” Baker said.

CCM will also deliver some of the food baskets to senior adult residents who can’t make it to the dock, he said.

Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministries (ECCCM) will also provide an allotment of turkeys from Second Harvest Food Bank to clients in its Hunger Prevention program.

“We started distributing them Monday morning, and we’re giving turkeys plus the trimmings,” said the Rev. Bob Silber, executive director for ECCCM.

Altogether, ECCCM will deliver about 150 turkeys to area residents, Silber said.

Community luncheon
St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Newton also expects to feed hundreds of area residents this week.

St. Joseph’s will hold a lunch on Thanksgiving Day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its location on West 13th Street in Newton. It is a community luncheon that is held at either St. Joseph’s or the First United Methodist Church in Newton each year.

“We’ve fed as many as 700 people in the past,” said St. Joseph representative Barbara Nesbitt. “It’s for all our community members who are needy or don’t want to be alone on Thanksgiving.”

Nesbitt said most of the food is donated and includes cooked turkeys, pies, stuffing and other Thanksgiving specialties purchased with monetary donations also received.

St. Joseph will also deliver food to “shut-in” residents in need this Thanksgiving. Nesbitt said church volunteers will deliver a Thanksgiving meal to needy residents in Newton, Claremont and Conover.

Professional support
A foundation established by NFL football player Justin Harper has teamed with Catawba County Social Services to provide Thanksgiving Day meals for 100 families in the area.

Harper donated the turkeys for the meals through his Oddie Cares Foundation, named after his grandmother, Oddie Harper.

Harper, who grew up in the town of Catawba and graduated from Bandys High School, is a wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens. He said he hopes to make the Thanksgiving donations an annual event.

Food baskets
The Catawba County Fraternal or of Police (FOP) is planning on giving out about 100 turkey baskets throughout the area this year.

The baskets will include turkey, canned vegetables, stuffing and other holiday foods.

The turkey giveaway is one of the FOP’s two main fundraising events surrounding the holiday seasons.