SGA donates to local families during hoildays

Members of the Student Government Association plan to deliver cooked turkey dinner baskets to local Tallahassee families in need during the Christmas break-continuing what they started during Thanksgiving.

Project 118 is a community service event, which was created during the 2000-2001 SGA administration, and partners with different businesses and churches to help those in need during the holidays.

SGA’s goal is to donate 118 baskets, because the significance of the name “Project 118” represents the number of years Florida A&M University has existed. 

SGA departments are required to give two baskets each year. Gamola Fortenberry, the event’s planner, wishes to distribute 200 baskets by Christmas.

SGA has collected about $3,500, with the help of FAMU faculty and staff. Various clubs and organizations also donated money to purchase the Publix baskets used in the give-away.

“I’m surprised to have received a lot of faculty and staff participation,” Fortenberry said.

Project 118 delivered 114 baskets to local families during the Thanksgiving break. Fortenberry, SGA deputy secretary of community affairs, delivered one $40 gift card to the Hinson-Williams family.

“I was so grateful, thankful and blessed to have been one of the families selected,” said Gail Hinson-Williams, a Tallahassee resident.

Hinson-Williams said she was surprised when she received the phone call, but she knew she could really use the gift card. 

Although her mother-in-law cooked for Thanksgiving, Hinson-Williams said since her husband is unemployed, the gift card helped her immediate family with personal items throughout the holidays.

This year, SGA chose to partner with the Refuge House, Urban League and Community of Faith Church. 

SGA officials said they choose to donate to the Refuge House because they serve many people who come from violent backgrounds.

“I felt the baskets would show that other people outside the Refuge House cares, also,” said Fortenberry, 21, a junior environmental science student from Tylertown, Miss.

Assistant Director of the Refuge House Marie Olenych was onsite to help give out a percentage of the baskets.

Olenych said the families were overjoyed to have received baskets filled with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce.

The Urban League, which has partnered off and on with FAMU on Project 118, received 80 baskets. 

“I commend the university for purchasing 80 baskets, because it shows an effort of giving back to the community,” said Leslie Gay, the Tallahassee Urban League Executive Vice President.

Although Urban League donated 100 baskets within its own client database, Gay said the baskets were greatly needed.

SGA selected the Community of Faith Church because they were doing their own food drive and thought more Thanksgiving baskets would help. 

Community of Faith was given five baskets, which Lois Carrington, the pastor of the congregation said the families were delighted to have received Thanksgiving dinner.

The first basket donations were held at Urban League Nov. 22. 

Publix provided fully cooked turkey dinners that were expected to serve about seven to 10 people, which cost $40 per basket. 

There will be more baskets given throughout the Christmas holidays.

Contact Jequisha Williams at