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Thanksgiving holiday prompts organizations to give thanks

A Thanksgiving meal gathers family and friends around the table. Before sitting down to the turkey dinner, families give thanks for the food and for the blessings they have received throughout the year. El Centro, Inc. in Kansas City, Kansas and Guadalupe Center, Inc. (GCI) in Kansas City, Missouri gathered family, friends and the community at their Thanksgiving meals last Tuesday to say thank you.

Each year both organizations turn the tables and provide a Thanksgiving luncheon for their supporters. Both ask their guests to come and eat and be waited on as their way of saying thank you for being there when they needed them.

El Centro Inc. staff and parents volunteered, donated and prepared the traditional thanksgiving meal for 250 people. The luncheon was held at the Academy for Children and their pre-school children provided the entertainment.

“It is our way of saying thank you to all of our supporters. It is important for us to do this as an organization,” said Irene Caudillo, CEO of El Centro, Inc.

Cris Medina, CEO of Guadalupe Center, Inc. agrees with Caudillo that their annual thanksgiving meal is also their thank you to the community for reaching out and helping them each year with their programs.

“I am not sure how many turkeys we cook, I think it was about 60 turkeys last year. We also have mash potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and rolls. For some of our seniors that are isolated or don’t have families, this is their thanksgiving meal. We want them to feel special. We wait on them and they get to feel good about theirselves,” said Medina.

In the past, the school children would attend the thanksgiving meal at GCI, but since the numbers have grown, this year the students still received a traditional holiday meal, but it was served at the schools.

During the holidays, it can be stressful for a family if they don’t have food to put on the table. There are families and individuals who are still struggling to make ends meet and still having to make choices between food or medicine. Giving the families a helping hand and donating healthy food for a family helps relieve some of the financial stress.

Capitol Federal Bank worked with El Centro and provided for six families a pre-cooked thanksgiving meal including all the side dishes. The United Auto Workers Local 249 donated 20 frozen turkeys for El Centro and a local church bible study group donated holiday dinners for families as well.

“It means a lot to our families and they are very appreciative of the generosity of this community to help them provide a dinner for their family,” said Caudillo.

The Save A Lot grocery store in the Argentine neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas began a food drive on November 1 to help families have healthy food choices to serve with their thanksgiving meal.

Customers can purchase a gift box containing vegetables, cranberry sauce, can of fruit salad, muffin mix, box of stuffing, box of potatoes and gravy mix for $6.50. The bag of items will be delivered to individuals and families in the Argentine community before Thanksgiving and again at Christmas.

The Argentine Neighborhood Development Association (ANDA) has partnered with Save A Lot during the holidays to help see that families in need can receive healthy foods for their holiday meals.

Ann Murguia, executive director of ANDA, presented Jeff Turnbough, district manager at Save A Lot with a check for $200 to help fill additional bags.

“We want to be good partners and we believe that good partners have to have skin in the game. We wanted to participate by giving a $200 donation to make more bags and get them out in the community,” said Murguia.

Save A Lot stores started the grocery bag drive two years ago in St. Louis, Missouri. The stores in Kansas and Missouri are holding the bag drive this year and Turnbough said, “We have 12 stores in the Kansas City market and this store in Argentine is the number one store for the number of bags donated so far. This is wonderful.”

The store set a low goal of how many bags they thought they would sell. “We set a goal of 300 bags. We have already passed that goal and now are setting a new goal of providing 700 bags of food for the community,” said Turnbough.

Candy Mills heard about the project and came to Save A Lot to purchase some groceries and a bag of food for a family in need this holiday season.

“This is a great idea. It makes me feel good that it will go to a family in the neighborhood. We don’t realize how many people go to bed hungry. I don’t have a lot but there are people with a lot less than me. It is very sad that kids or anybody has to go to bed at night cold and hungry,” said Mills.

Bill Rogers, community outreach for ANDA, was surprised when he walked into the Save A Lot store and saw a large box and two grocery carts filled with bags of food.

“I am shocked. It is really exciting that the community has gotten involved in this project and they have given generously. I know I am going to need more volunteers to deliver these bags,” said Rogers.

The Save A Lot food drive will continue through the end of December helping families through the Christmas holiday. People wanting to donate to the food drive can do so by visiting the store and paying the $6.50 through the check out lane.

“I can’t say enough good things about the people that live here and how much time and money they volunteer for projects we do. The program just kicked off a couple of weeks ago and we already have 300 bags. As long as the demand is the way it is, we will keep it going until January 1,” said Murguia.