Thanksgiving Comes Early for Tallahassee Residents in Need

Bethel AME Church sponsored their annual Thanksgiving Basket Project Saturday morning, supplying hundreds of Tallahassee residents with a holiday dinner. 

Church members and volunteers worked harmoniously to distribute 550 Thanksgiving baskets for families less fortunate.

Bethel AME Thanksgiving Project Chairperson, Connie E. Jenkins-Pye said the church has been supporting their community during the Thanksgiving season for more than 25 years. 

"Our theme is Bethelites serving the community more like Christ and the mission is to make sure needy people or hungry people in Tallahassee are fed for the Thanksgiving holiday season," Jenkins-Pye said. 

Like most holidays, Thanksgiving has a general theme of gratitude. It is the celebration and appreciation of certain privileges such as good health, nourishment, shelter, family and friends. 

Although some Tallahassee residents may not receive the complete experience of Thanksgiving, Bethel AME provides the bare necessities of a traditional Thanksgiving meal suitable for a family of four. 

A basket includes: a whole turkey, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, Stove Top stuffing mix, white rice, black-eyed peas, corn, turkey necks and fresh collard greens. 

The process of receiving a Thanksgiving basket was based on a referral system. Referrals from church members, social service agencies and Leon County Schools were given to Bethel AME Church in advance. 

The individuals who were not referred by an agency or Bethel member were advised to come by the church to put their name on a waiting list for the remaining baskets.

Tallahassee resident and basket recipient Clavora Washington was informed about the charitable event through Oak Ridge Elementary School.

“I am very thankful for the food they are giving out because this is really for the children,” Washington said.

Alongside Bethel AME and its church members were numerous college organizations combining their efforts to disperse the baskets. 

Among the organizations was Florida A&M University’s Lady Rattlers Softball team. The team, volunteering for a fifth year, understood the power of giving back to their community.

Assistant Coach Lori Goodart recognized the value of this experience and the impact it has on the coaches and players.

“This is a great opportunity to help other people,” Goodart said. “It’s very gratifying to be able to volunteer for the community and represent Florida A&M.”

Kearvanyves Toussaint, a sophomore physical therapy student, was a first-time volunteer at the event and was glad to spend time serving others.

“Many families in Tallahassee are in a situation where they can’t get their own food for the holidays,” Toussaint said. “If I can help these families in any way, I’ll volunteer and do what I can.”

In the final hour, Bethel AME dwindled to their final baskets. The congregation and their helpers hustled to cater the last few recipients.

A room once full of Thanksgiving baskets was now empty and a community that may have been deprived of a Thanksgiving meal had received a bountiful feast for the holiday.