When Tricia Steinman heard there was a turkey shortage right before the holidays, she started to worry.
As an organizer for Elf Central FoCo, a county-wide food drive and event to help provide a meal to every first responder in the county working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, she relies on donations of turkeys, side dishes and all kinds of holiday food from the community.
Before Steinman could get too concerned, management at the Costco off of Bald Ridge Marina Road in Cumming stepped up to the plate, promising to set aside and donate extra turkeys.
“They saved the day,” Steinman said.
The store held on to turkeys before the holiday to give to each one of their employees, and then kept the rest frozen for Steinman and other volunteers to pick up before Christmas Eve.
Other businesses in the area and community members also donated items, leaving Elf Central FoCo with 25 turkeys, trays of side dishes and drinks from Mellow Mushroom, paper products and utensils from Northside Hospital Forsyth and more.
Other community members donated gifts like hand warmers for the county’s School Resource Officers, which they sent to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office to help keep them warm during the winter months.
Steinman and her team ended up taking donations for about a week and a half before heading out to deliver the food to all the county’s precincts, police station, fire stations and the jail.
“It’s a great community event and a way to give back to our first responders,” Steinman said. “They’re away from their families at Christmas, and we just make sure they have a good meal to share with [others].”
In past years, the food donated to law enforcement officers in the county was all homemade as Steinman simply asked community members to make an extra casserole or an extra batch of dinner rolls as they were preparing for their own Christmas meals.
This year, to follow COVID-19 guidelines and “stay as safe as possible,” all the food provided was store-bought.
Especially during the pandemic, Steinman and her friends who are part of Elf Central FoCo worried about the number of donations this year, but with the help of the community and surrounding businesses, the event grew even bigger.
After delivering all of the turkeys and side dishes, the group had enough left over to donate food to the Baldridge Boys Lodge and to Jesse’s House.
“This way, they had extra food and felt that love from the community as well,” Steinman said.
She said she loves to see how Elf Central FoCo has grown over the years, and she wants to see it continue to grow and provide that same love from the community to others.
For those that did not have the chance to donate food this year, Steinman asked that community members continue to donate to BADGE, or Benevolent Association Dedicated to Giving to Employees, at www.badgeoffcso.org.
The association is made up of community members and helps to provide support to FCSO officers and staff members who may need extra help.
Steinman also thanked Davina Potter and Lorrie Angell, who help to organize the event each year. Angell was unable to to take part in the event this year as she is battling cancer, but Steinman said she has continued to be a huge help through the years.
Those looking to get involved with Elf Central FoCo next Christmas can find the group on Facebook.
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