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Community effort feeds local families at Thanksgiving

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AMSTERDAM — Madison Mead knows families who worried about putting food on the table at Thanksgiving during the pandemic. She and other locals helped take that worry away this year.

“Everyone should get a home-cooked meal,” said Mead, a junior at Amsterdam High School.

Chris Carpenter, a community volunteer, said organizing free Thanksgiving meal kits for distribution to local families again this year was more important than ever as people faced with the rising costs of goods worry about where their next meal will come from.

“People already choose between medicine and gas for their car and I don’t want people to have to choose for dinner too,” Carpenter said. “The greatest gift you can give someone is peace of mind.”

The community rose to meet the growing local need to ensure that 142 families in Montgomery and Fulton counties will enjoy full Thanksgiving meals.

Amsterdam Middle and High School students with the National Honor Society were among the roughly 25 volunteers filling bags with all the holiday trimmings at Barkley Elementary School on Tuesday.

“It’s a good opportunity for all of us to help,” high school junior Cheyanne DeRose said.

The many hands made for light work as reusable bags were filled to the brim with canned goods, mashed potatoes, stuffing and dinner rolls in around two hours. Extra cheer was added with holiday ornaments and cookie cutters.

The only snafu of the afternoon came when students lost track of the bags already containing cans of green beans. The simple solution was to add another can to every bag, even if it meant some families receive doubles.

“That’s not a problem at all,” Carpenter said.

Students were eager to lend their hands packing meals for families in need to enjoy this Thanksgiving.

“I feel accomplished that I helped someone else,” eighth grader Leila Brooks said.

The activity was a reminder to be thankful for those around you and all that you have this holiday, she added.

Looking forward to spending time with family around the holiday dinner table, high school senior Darius Gainer was grateful to help give other families with limited resources that same chance.

“The most important thing is to spend time with loved ones,” high school junior Anthony Serrano agreed. “I feel like I’m doing something important, being able to give another family what I have.”

Barkley Principal Nancy Rad has long been involved in the holiday meal program and was thrilled to bring preparations into her building this year. Elementary age students were able to contribute by donating perishable goods.

“I like my kids to know the importance of helping others, we’re very community minded,” Rad said.

School families are among the recipients of the meals, Rad acknowledged. Seeing former Barkley Bulldogs and Amsterdam students help make it happen was especially meaningful.

“I’m just so thankful they do come and help,” Rad said. “It’s truly a community endeavor.”

Turkeys were added to the meals on Wednesday morning when they were handed off to roughly 50 volunteer drivers for delivery to families.

The Thanksgiving meals are fully funded through donations from community members and local organizations. Each meal costs about $40 and feeds a family of four to five with leftovers.

“We have some very generous people,” Carpenter said, thanking everyone involved. “We come from a community that’s giving.”

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

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Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, News

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