SUNCOAST (WWSB) - Thanksgiving is just one week away. While some of us can already taste the turkey and pumpkin pie, a Thanksgiving dinner is something that hundreds of people on the Suncoast simply cannot afford. There are dozens of local organizations that try and make it happen for those families, but they can’t do it without our help.
“A year and a half ago it was 200 people. Last month it was 450. So, unfortunately, we’re really going in the wrong direction. We’d love to go out of business, but unfortunately, this year was our busiest year. Last month, was our busiest month ever, and this week will probably be our busiest week ever, so we’re not slowing down at all," Mark Rennie, the President of Helping Hand Englewood, explained.
However, being a non-profit social services agency, helping hand relies on donations – especially for the holidays. Their biggest contributor, the All Faith Food Bank in Sarasota, was only able to give them 175 turkeys this year, so they were struggling on how to have enough Thanksgiving dinners for all.
That’s when other local businesses came to the table.
“Once the word got out, we were just inundated with food,” Rennie told us.
The president-elect of the Englewood Chamber of Commerce gathered a few companies who were willing to pitch in.
“We all went shopping for turkeys… and that’s the power of the Englewood community. We are Englewood strong and we take care of each other,” Mary Smedley, the President-Elect of the Englewood Chamber of Commerce, expressed.
They were able to provide helping hand with all the additional donations they needed to ensure that all families on the Suncoast would be able to have a holiday meal.
“There’s so many people right now that have been affected by red tide and things like that. Those that work in the service industry have seen their income come down a little bit, so I think that there’s more in need than ever before. If there’s little things like that, like providing a turkey, that’s going to make a difference in their life.. I think that’s so important," Erin Halstead, from Michael Saunders & Company, said.
After seeing so many different people come together to make it all happen, they say there couldn’t have been a better time to be thankful of what they are a part of.
“That’s what makes a community strong. No matter what happens, we go through it together and we take care of each other. That is why I’m so passionate about us. It doesn’t matter if it’s turkeys or helping Christmas angels, or red tide… whatever it is, it’s our responsibility as a community to come together. Englewood always does that, and I am so proud to be a part of this community,” said Smedley.
There are other Thanksgiving food drives happening this weekend all along the Suncoast:
All Faiths Food Bank - Free turkey mass distribution in South County from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 4365 State Road 776, Venice
All Faiths Food Bank - Free turkey mass distribution in North County from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 20 at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds, Robarts Arena, 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota.
The Boohoff Law firm - Giving away 300 free turkeys on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at noon Friday. One ticket per family will be given to the first 300 in line. 14900 Tamiami Trail, North Port.