Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Families are sustained by turkey giveaway

It was nearly an hour into the giveaway Monday morning and only 57 of the free turkeys had been picked up at St. John's Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Akron.

James Gibbons wasn't about to fret.

''Just let the word get out,'' Gibbons said, ''and they will come. It's just a matter of time, just a matter of time.''

Sure enough, it was just a matter of time before people arrived — and arrived — at the church at 1233 S. Hawkins Ave.

Nearly 125 of the 200 turkeys St. John's CME food ministry had obtained were distributed to area families during the two-hour giveaway.

Money for the turkeys was raised through donations at the church, assistant food ministry director Thomas Shaw said.

The remaining frozen birds will be distributed on a first-come basis from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today at the church's once-a-month food bag giveaway.

''We want to provide as much for the community as we possibly can,'' said Gibbons, director of the St. John's food ministry, which runs on the efforts of 10 dedicated volunteers.

''We had done a lot of things before in the 26 years we've been in the food ministry, but this was the first year we've been able to give away turkeys at Christmas.''

The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank let St. John's know it had 15-pound turkeys available a while back, ''and we jumped on it,'' Gibbons said.

He said the church will do the giveaway next year, ''and forever if they give us the opportunity.''

Estella Bushner, a West Akron resident, said the turkey giveaway was perfectly timed for her family.

''We have had some problems,'' she said. ''We have a son who is out of work.

''Getting this today will make certain that we will have turkey for Christmas dinner. This really means a lot to my entire family.''

Shaw said that is the essence of why the food ministry provides such services as its twice-weekly hot lunches, the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and the food bag giveaways that average about 100 takers.

The food bag giveaway is limited to residents of the 44320 ZIP code, but everything else is open to all in need.

''We are fortunate,'' said Shaw, a General Tire and Rubber Co. retiree, ''but others are not as fortunate.

''It is for them that we exist. We want to continue to give back as much to the community as we can.''

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