In the words of SHSM’s Food Pantry Manager Jose Franco, as he thanked staff for their hard work, this year was truly an “epic Thanksgiving!”
It takes a large number of employees, donors and volunteers to ensure that families living in poverty in our area are able to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. This year was no different.
Last year, 873 families received food baskets from SHSM. Increased unemployment due to COVID-19 this year has resulted in additional need for food. Our early plans were to distribute a total of 1,000 baskets this year, an increase of 15% over 2019.
As families requested Thanksgiving food assistance, it became clear that 1,000 baskets would not be enough.
The increased need would stretch our resources, but trusting in God and in the generosity of our donors, we began the process of collecting food and setting up the staging area two weeks earlier this year.
And, like a blessing from God, thankfully, many of our friends opened their hearts and pockets to help with our efforts to feed the poor. Our generous benefactors, filled with compassion and concern for others, gave us the resources to purchase the needed groceries. Every single box included a holiday bird and a generous portion of vegetables, side dishes, dessert fixings and flour, sugar and other staples.
But this Thanksgiving story doesn’t end at putting the food baskets together. Logistics played an essential role as well. Crisscrossing the 2,500 square mile, 5-county service area daily for nearly three weeks, the staff of the food pantry and volunteer program, as well as throngs of volunteers, made last-minute food purchases and basket deliveries to our social service offices. Deliveries to senior and low-income locations were expanded to include distribution in additional low-income neighborhoods in poor areas of DeSoto, Tunica and Marshall counties.
As the sun set on Tuesday evening in Olive Branch, the last of the food baskets were distributed. Each person who received a basket could tell you the story of their hardships and needs. But what was evident on the face of everyone who received a basket was their gratitude.
You know the hard work that goes into planning and preparing a Thanksgiving meal; you understand the cherished memories it creates. You helped the staff of Sacred Heart Southern Missions and our volunteers to make it possible for 1,477 families to enjoy this Thanksgiving. The sheer magnitude of this is indeed epic.
We express our heartfelt gratitude for everyone’s contribution in making this possible. Thank you for blessing those in need! Thank you!