Sam Chamberlain of Mount Airy agreed that it was nice to have the ingredients for a complete Thanksgiving meal delivered right to his doorstep. But that gesture also included something he considers just as important.
“I’ve got friends that care about me,” Chamberlain said while accepting a big blue bag containing a turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls and a pumpkin pie.
Chamberlain, who lives in an apartment at the southern end of town, was one of about 1,260 people receiving such home deliveries countywide courtesy of a 19th annual program led by a Sunday school class at First Baptist Church here. A team of 52 volunteers and eight others who bagged up the foods at a central distribution point allowed 315 meals to reach the hands of area residents Wednesday afternoon and evening.
Woody Jordan, longtime organizer of the effort, says the program seeks not only to provide the food but stresses the importance of family togetherness and of caring about others which is vital at this time of year. Local agencies such as schools identify those in need, who reflect a variety of circumstances.
“It means a lot,” said Jack Butcher of Mount Airy, another meal recipient. Butcher, a 76-year-old great-grandfather who is confined to a wheelchair, said he has been receiving the meal package for about five years.
“The best part is receiving,” the elderly man joked as he accepted the blue bag filled with goodies. But Butcher quickly acknowledged a warm feeling in his chest as well.
“It just makes you feel good,” he said of the thought behind the gift of food.
When receiving his package, Sam Chamberlain was wearing a Mount Airy Bears cap — reflecting his avid support of local high school sports teams. He is also well-known as a Special Olympics competitor and volunteer for The Salvation Army’s Christmas bell-ringing campaign.
Chamberlain planned to take part of the food to his sister’s to cook on Thanksgiving Day, but said with a grin that “some of it” will stay at his apartment.
Another home where receiving the food made a difference is that of Kay Vargas and John Cole and the three young children in their household.
Vargas is a former loan processor in Miami who is having trouble finding work in Mount Airy. She said that includes fast-food restaurants, which seem reluctant to hire her because she is “old,” and not a teen.
She contemplated what kind of Thanksgiving the family would have without the food being provided. “A very sad one, with the economy the way it is,” Vargas agreed.
Nearly $8,000 In Aid
The good feelings were not limited to just those receiving the items. They also extended to the volunteer delivery personnel, who said they experienced the spirit of giving and true meaning of the holiday.
Trent and Melissa Huffman are former local residents who live in Atlanta and volunteered for the meals program while on a holiday visit here.
They were accompanied by sons Reece, 9, and Ben, 7, who were with their parents during the deliveries for a special reason.
“The boys, they’re getting to the age where they need to know it’s not about getting, it’s about giving,” Trent Huffman explained.
Nicole Jordan is among several volunteers of the meals program from the Jordan family, who also include Woody, her uncle; dad Steve Jordan; and her stepmom Jeanette. Nicole took food to various local families with the help of her boyfriend, Ben Hooker, and Jeannette Jordan.
That included the delivery to Chamberlain, who is well-known to Jordan through her work as a Special Olympics volunteer.
“It’s just a blessing to be able to help someone who probably wouldn’t have a meal if we didn’t bring it to them,” she said.
Jordan, 25, also cited the fact that the annual program is named for her grandmother, Joanne Jordan — Woody’s and Steve’s mother — who died when Nicole was 8. That also gives it special significance to her, said Nicole, a longtime volunteer with the effort who even helped in its packaging component in the years before she got a driver’s license.
Woody Jordan said the food provided this year alone totaled nearly $8,000 in value, which he stressed was accomplished not only through efforts by members of First Baptist Church but other area congregations and numerous contributions from the public at large.
This year’s meal total was a record for the nearly 20-year-old program, which Vargas and other recipients were glad to be part of during Thanksgiving 2012.
“It’s wonderful — it’s absolutely wonderful,” she said when receiving the food. “We do appreciate it.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.