Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times
Second Harvest of South Georgia gave away roughly 30,000 meals Wednesday morning to families in need of food.
“With unemployment still very high in our area, families are suffering,” said Second Harvest CEO Frank Richards. “The need is definitely here.”
Though the distribution didn’t start until 9 a.m., cars began lining up at 7:30 a.m. and reached all the way to the Georgia State Patrol Office.
More than 100 volunteers assembled and handed out about 3,500 boxes and nearly 4,000 bags of produce, desserts and
Each 20-pound box and each bag feeds approximately four people.
“It’s a basic starter box for three or four different meals,” said Doug Griner, Second Harvest director of volunteer services.
While Second Harvest distributes food throughout the region all year long — roughly 16 million pounds of food this year alone — this particular event right before Thanksgiving made a big impact for those families who couldn’t afford to celebrate the holiday on their own.
“It’s a big blessing to us because the way the economy is, there aren’t too many jobs,” said Trevor Brown as he waited in line.
Brown was at Second Harvest with his wife, Lakisha, and his two children. He said the food would be their Thanksgiving dinner.
As Kelly Johns and Ashley Martin inched closer to the food loading area, they realized how lucky they are.
“It’s a blessing,” said Johns. “It will add a lot to our Thanksgiving dinner. We got a turkey from one of the churches.”
Johns has five kids to feed and Martin has three.
Such testimonials were the reason so many
volunteers took time out of their day to help. The line of cars seemed endless and it was a sobering site that put life in perspective for many, even for 11-year-old Hannah Lambert.
“Yes, I am (shocked),” said Lambert. “We got here at 7:30 a.m. and the line was already really long.”
Volunteer David Burkholder was also astonished at the amount of people in need of food.
“We got here about a quarter to 7 a.m. and they were already lined up past Gil Harbin (Industrial Boulevard),” said Burkholder.
Almost more surprising than the number of cars was the number of volunteers. Most of whom were not part of clubs or large organizations, but rather high school students and families who felt that coming out and helping was just the right thing to do.
“I’ve been doing this job almost 20 years and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of folks that come out,” said Richards.
The preparation for this food giveaway took four weeks, and Griner said Smok’n Pig and ADM were the events two largest sponsors.
“For this particular event, it’s a way that we can personally reach our community,” said Griner.