November 30, 2017
How do you celebrate Thanksgiving in a Food Desert?
A huge first-time effort for Dallas Bethlehem Center was to send Thanksgiving food home with the families to prepare rather than preparing a community dinner as DBC has done in the past. All the can goods, turkeys, produce, dinner rolls, baskets, stuffing, cake mixes, icing, cooking pans, foil, flour, pancake mix, and salad dressings were donated by United Methodist Women, Sunday School classes, UM churches, Tom Thumb, Kroger, Crossroads Community Services, K104 – Dallas, Loncar Associates, AmeriPath, Go Texan Store, North Texas Conference Lay Ministers and Bridgford Foods.
Dallas Bethlehem Center distributes more than 3,000 pounds each week to 250 families living in the food desert that is South Dallas/Fair Park. About 180 of those families and those in the early education program at DBC signed up for help in putting a Thanksgiving meal on their tables. DBC, in turn, reached out to our donors and friends for help.
Teams of volunteers from St. Paul UMC, Loncar Associates and the DBC community helped to sort all the food into groups and then into the baskets in preparation for Tuesday’s distribution. A new team of volunteers greeted recipient families with coffee and donuts while their shopping cart was filled with the basket and all the trimmings. Volunteers helped them out to their transportation.
Mr. Leonard Henderson was one community member who transported his goodies with the help of a weekender suitcase on rollers and his remarkable tetris skills! It took some thirty minutes to condense everything into his roller bag, but with a huge smile and grateful heart, he talked of his wonderful daughters who would come to his apartment and help prepare the feast. His pride in his girls was obvious, but perhaps overshadowing that was his grateful heart for all God has given to him these 74 years. He left DBC Tuesday morning with a smile and song on his lips as he walked back to the bus station for the ride home.
As the enormous undertaking came to a close and the last baskets distributed, a cane was found by the front door to the gym where Mr. Henderson had so diligently worked on his packing. We checked the list and found his phone number. Sure enough, the cane was his. In his excitement, he had left it behind, but was missing it already. I stopped by Mr. Henderson’s apartment on my way home to find his grin firmly in place and a praise hymn at full volume as he waved me in from his front porch.
Thank you to all those who donated food, worked and support DBC now and throughout the year. You helped make Thanksgiving a bountiful blessed day for so many and a special memory for me and my new friend Mr. Henderson.
And now you know how we celebrate Thanksgiving in a food desert … TOGETHER.
See photos from our 2017 Thanksgiving Food Basket distribution day.