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LAMP Ministries adjusting after turkeys don’t arrive for Saturday meal
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Mary Mauricio, executive director of LAMP Ministries in Gainesville, accepts donations from volunteers on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, to support the nonprofit's Thanksgiving feeding scheduled for this Saturday. Mauricio expects to feed some 400 homeless and low-income individuals and families.

Blessings often come in the strangest of disguises.

That’s how leaders of Latin American Missionary Program Ministries in Gainesville see the snag that hit them Monday when dozens of turkeys were not delivered ahead of an annual Thanksgiving meal.

“That put me in a tailspin,” Executive Director Mary Mauricio said. “I had all the volunteers ready. It was chaotic.”

LAMP provides emergency shelter, food, basic necessities and counseling to at-risk teens and families in Hall, Dawson, Forsyth, Gwinnett and Fulton counties.

LAMP Ministries Thanksgiving meal

What: Free community feeding

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: 794 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville

This year will mark the 17th community dinner provided by LAMP for homeless individuals and low-income families in Gainesville and Hall County.

In addition to feeding an expected 400 or more people this Saturday, LAMP provides all the fixings and even sends turkeys home with families to prepare for their own Thanksgiving meal.

Mauricio said the nonprofit Americans Helping Americans, which works throughout the Appalachian region with poverty-stricken families, the elderly, veterans and disabled to meet emergency needs, placed the order for turkeys on LAMP’s behalf.

But the private deliverer called Monday to offer three different explanations for the foul-up: The delivery truck left without the turkeys, the driver had a family emergency and the driver didn’t have the proper paperwork to pick up the turkeys.

Whatever the reason, the turkeys never arrived, and Mauricio was left scrambling.

“There’s a lot of people … who don’t have another option,” she said. “I can’t call it off. I gave them my word. We do this every year.”

Mauricio began asking for donations and turkeys, which have to be thawed, cooked on Thursday, deboned on Friday and served on Saturday.

“Time is of the essence right now,” she said.

Word spread on social media, with an anonymous donor in Commerce promising 20 turkeys.

And the blessings continued Tuesday as volunteers and other donors stepped up to provide turkeys, dry goods, drinks and plates for the feeding.

Mauricio also received a call Tuesday from Americans Helping Americans and was told to purchase however many turkeys were needed and that LAMP would be reimbursed.

“That’s where we’re at right now,” she said, adding that LAMP staff and volunteers will be working double-time the next few days and nights to prepare the feast and make up for lost time.

LAMP’s Ruben Mauricio said having the community reach out in support over the last 24 to 48 hours has been a silver lining to an otherwise sticky situation.

“This effort is not just LAMP,” he said. “We’re talking about a collaborative effort.”