When the Newton County Minister’s Union (NCMU) gathered at Legion Field for its 35th annual Thanksgiving Feed the Hungry Box Distribution on Nov. 18, they had the goal to distribute 600 boxes. By day’s end, that target had been exceeded by approximately 50 boxes.
One thing became clear to pastor Willie Davis, an NCMU member and pastor of Murray Memorial CME Church, after the turnout.
“That really shows people care about the community and understand that there are people in the community who are really in need,” Davis said.
Each box consisted of enough food to feed a family of four as well as a turkey to have for Thanksgiving on Thursday. The NCMU accepted donations of the following items, too, from Oct. 28 to Nov. 11: individual cans of whole kernel corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, boxes of stuffing, five-pound bags of potatoes, dinner rolls and box cake mix and icing.
In addition to the number of boxes surpassing expectations, the amount of volunteers were at an all-time high, too.
NCMU Thanksgiving Meal Box committee member Mary Smith was grateful for all of the support.
“It takes everybody to do that,” Smith said. “One person, one group can’t do it by themselves. It takes everybody from the government down.”
Davis said that the Thanksgiving box distribution is probably the longest standing community service project the NCMU does today.
“One of the goals of the minister’s union with the feeding program is to make sure everybody during the Thanksgiving holidays has a meal,” Davis said. “And that no one goes lacking. We want to be a source for the community to provide those meals.”
The Thanksgiving box distribution has taken on different forms across the past 35 years as well.
It started out being hosted in the National Guard building on Carroll St. and then moved over to the old Sharp School. Originally, the NCMU would serve cooked, sit-down meals that were nearing the 1,200-meal mark.
However, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the project transitioned to giving out food boxes instead.
Nevertheless, the Thanksgiving Feed the Hungry Box Distribution seems to remain thriving after all of the alterations.
According to Davis, that is a credit to the community’s support.
“The blessing is the coming together of the community. We have people from all backgrounds that come together, volunteer and offer their services,” Davis said. “All sections of the community come together for one purpose and that is to serve this community and those who are in need.
“We have no other agenda other than, as the minister’s union, is to be a spiritual covering for the community. Be that source and resource.”