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Neighbors help neighbors with Thanksgiving meals in a box
Under the Bridge Ministries holds fifth annual effort to distribute food to families in need
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Heidy Ayala, center, collects a box of food during Under the Bridge Ministries' 5th annual Thanksgiving in a Box at Trails End Mobile Home Park in Flowery Branch, on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. - photo by David Barnes

Boxes full of food were headed out to those in need Saturday to ensure families across Hall have a Thanksgiving meal.

Under the Bridge Ministries held its fifth annual Thanksgiving in a Box event. Volunteers began their day at Celebration Church in Hoschton, where boxes were packed.

“This is a collaboration of a bunch of churches. When we say we want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, we really want that and to represent the church,” said Stephanie Martin, Thanksgiving in a Box coordinator.

More than 100 helping hands filled boxes and packed trucks early Saturday morning before heading out into the community feed about 200 families.

“God has blessed our family so much that I wanted to come out and teach my 5-year-old boy to bless others,” volunteer Olivia Williams of Hoschton said. “This is our first year doing this and it is incredible to see the church come out and help all those that need it.”

Each box contained green beans, turkey gravy, yams, cranberry sauce, canned ham, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, pumpkin pie, rolls and corn, enough to feed a family of six.

“I was a recipient of one of these boxes a few years back and I know what it meant to me,” Martin said. “This is a way we can give back to the community. This is a way we can give families who wouldn’t otherwise have a Thanksgiving meal, Thanksgiving.

“I have been on that side of the fence before and it is not fun. Whenever you are a single mom and you have three little babies sitting there looking at you and you are just wondering how you will get food in your cabinet. When you can see it from that angle and you are presented the opportunity to give back, you want to do that.”

Martin said for her, “it is very personal.”

“I look forward to it every year because I remember what it was like being in those shoes,” she said. “It is not fun and scary, I had to learn firsthand how to really depend on God. For us, it fed us for a week.”

Volunteers distributed food boxes to Trails End Mobile Home Park in Flowery Branch and King’s Highway food pantry in Dahlonega, and provided a hot Thanksgiving meal to the homeless and disabled at The Way Mission in Gainesville.

Teams also handed out goody bags to the children and hosted a black party at Trails End Mobile Home Park.

“I have done this once before. My wife and I belong to the church and like to participate in these activities,” volunteer Ed Kay of Hoschton said. “This is what the Lord wants us to be doing and it is exciting to see that our neighbors are out here. Everyone is doing something and it is fun.”

Martin said volunteers do this annually because “it is a matter of doing something to give back to the community during this time of giving, giving thanks and being thankful for what you do have.”

“So many times we take for granted all the wonderful things we have been blessed with and it is so easy to overlook that. I think it is important to be able to stop, reflect and if you are able to give back, do it,” Martin said.

Celebration Church is located at 5560 Thompson Mill Road in Hoschton. For more information about Under the Bridge Ministries visit utbministries.org.

I have been on that side of the fence before and it is not fun. Whenever you are a single mom and you have three little babies sitting there looking at you and you are just wondering how you will get food in your cabinet. When you can see it from that angle and you are presented the opportunity to give back, you want to do that.
Stephanie Martin, Thanksgiving in a Box coordinator
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