The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving assistance under way in Limestone County

Kim West

A group of Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered together 391 years ago for what is believed to be the first Thanksgiving meal, and this spirit of giving and fellowship continues today as local groups strive to provide Thanksgiving for those in need.

Among the Limestone County agencies and groups that sponsor Thanksgiving assistance, Limestone County Churches Involved has scheduled its second annual Stuff-a-Truck food drive for this weekend.

LCCI, which includes 39 churches of all denominations, will sponsor collection sites at First National Bank on the corner of U.S. 72 and Lindsay Lane and at the old Kroger building on Jefferson Street from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday. There will also be a collection after the 5 p.m. community Thanksgiving service at First Baptist Church on Sunday

Daisy McCormick, a longtime LCCI volunteer, said the food drive helps re-stock the LCCI pantry on Hobbs Street, which serves as an emergency food bank for local low-income families up to four times per year.

“Last week alone, 112 people came in for food assistance,” McCormick said. “We’re always needing food, but during the holidays we need even more.”

In addition to the nonperishable food drive, LCCI is also asking for donations of personal hygiene items. Last year’s inaugural drive brought in approximately 10,000 items after LCCI volunteer Ida Terry suggested holding the event.

“We didn’t know what to expect the first time, but it did exceed our expectations,” McCormick said. “It helped out so much.”

Nonperishable food items needed include pancake mix, syrup, canned vegetables, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, jelly, canned soup, boxed cereal and canned tuna.

“We’re also asking for toilet paper, shampoo, laundry detergent and deodorant,” said McCormick, who stressed that LCCI’s top priority is food assistance. “We always give people toilet paper and soap, but we don’t always have the other items they need, especially shampoo, laundry detergent and deodorant.”

Last year also marked a first for Roxanne Haggermaker, who teamed with her friend Kay Birdsong to come up with the idea to host a free, communitywide meal on Thanksgiving Day.

With the help of more than a dozen volunteers, 200 people were served a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal and 200 meals were delivered to homebound Limestone County residents. This year’s dinner will be served again at the Vietnam Veterans of America building at 17915 W. Elm St. in Athens.

“We start serving Thanksgiving Day at 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., or until everyone gets fed,” said Haggermaker, whose family spent approximately $600 to buy supplies, including seven hams and seven turkeys that were smoked by Doug Swain. “We would rather spend our time making sure others have a meal because we know we’ll get together and have our Thanksgiving.

“We want to make this is an annual event because there are a lot of people who don’t have Thanksgiving because their kids have grown up, and they don’t have someone to spend Thanksgiving with — and it’s about being with family and friends.”

Haggermaker said anyone is welcome to attend, regardless of income, while delivery is restricted to local residents who are unable to leave their homes.

“We don’t care if you live in a $100,000 home or live in a cardboard box — everyone is welcome,” said Haggermaker, president of the AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary Post 21, an event co-sponsor. “This meal is for anybody — we don’t care where you’re from, but we only deliver in Limestone County.

“Come on out if you’re from Huntsville or working at the nuclear plant, or you’re away from home and working down here. If you don’t have a way and you want to get on the list, just give me a call.”

To make a food donation or request a delivery, contact Haggermaker at 256-374-2073.