WASHINGTON - A wonderful D.C. tradition continues this Thanksgiving, as Food and Friends’ staff and volunteers give holiday meals to adults and children in the region facing HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses.
Staff and volunteers woke up before the sun to get the job done. For some, like volunteer Brenda Hamlin, their motivation is a personal connection.
“My mother was battling cancer she lived alone and cannot prepare her meals. So, luckily she qualified for the meals program with food and friends and it was a lifeline for her. My mother who really was appreciative of the meals and I’m appreciative of being able to pay it forward and volunteer at food and friends,” said Hamlin.
Due to social distancing restrictions, volunteers are working hard in smaller shifts in the weeks proceeding Thanksgiving to prepare the meals. There are also two separate sites for packaging and deliveries. On Thanksgiving Day, nearly 200 volunteer drivers picked up meals and to do contactless deliveries across the region.
Danny Conway, Delivery and Operations Director, said he is proud to give back to a community that gave him so much.
“D.C., Maryland, and Virginia raised me. And so, the fact that I’ve been able to do this for many many many many years, and boots on the ground helping the people out that need it most. And serving our community which is what we’re all about. Humanity. Being a part of what we do. So, it’s a blessing for me to be a part of this. And to always be a part of the community,” said Conway.
Staff and volunteers prepared 8,520 pounds of turkey, 1,065 pounds of roasted potatoes, 1,065 pounds of cornbread stuffing, and 5,680 dinner rolls the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Each Thanksgiving delivery will feed five people.
“This year especially, everyone deserves a celebration. The reality is that even during the holidays our clients, who suffer from chronic and complex medical issues, would otherwise be unable to celebrate in the most basic and necessary way – with a warm Thanksgiving meal for their families,” says Food and Friends Executive Director Carrie Stoltzfus.
"These children and families deal with serious issues every day, but we can make Thanksgiving a much better holiday. Setting some extra places at the table is our Thanksgiving tradition," she added
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Food and Friends depends on the support of the entire community to make Thanksgiving a reality for its clients and will deliver 1.2 million meals this coming year.
For more information, visit their website.