With Thanksgiving just around the corner, many families have begun preparing their menus for the feast on Thursday, writing down the ingredients they need to pick up at the grocery store while they still have the chance.
But while these families are rushing out to the stores, others are heading to The Place of Forsyth for a chance at having their own celebrations.
Cars filled the parking lot earlier this week as the local food pantry began handing out its annual Thanksgiving boxes, which are filled with everything a family would need to make a Thanksgiving dinner — turkeys or turkey breasts, canned sides, pumpkin pie filling and so much more.
Joni Smith, The Place of Forsyth’s president and CEO, said the boxes also include a $20-25 gift card “so that they can customize their Thanksgiving meal according to their tastes and family traditions.”
Over the course of the next week, Smith said they expect to distribute more than 400 boxes to families in both Dawson and Forsyth counties.
Many said they don’t know what they would do without help from The Place during the holidays.
“It’s been a pleasure to me to where I know that I got something to eat when I need it,” one client said.
Another woman sat in her car, waiting while volunteers finished getting boxes and food ready to bring out to other visitors. She said she hopes to spend Thanksgiving at home with her family next week, cooking and spending quality time together.
She said she feels “blessed” knowing that she will be able to have that meal together with her family thanks to the pantry at The Place and each of the community members who donated and volunteered to help this year.
Smith said community members from all over volunteered to fill the boxes, grabbing and adding in the donated items based on a provided shopping list.
The Vietnam Veterans of America of Cumming Chapter 103 sponsored the event, donating turkeys and volunteering to help pack boxes through this past week. The west cluster of Forsyth County Schools also held food drives, collecting nearly 170 turkeys for the boxes.
Other community members and organizations also donated to help make sure The Place could provide these meals to any family who might need them next week, including the Parker Wade Burch Joy of Hope Foundation.
Shannon and Patrick Burch formed the foundation in honor of their nearly 2-year-old son who died early last year. Ever since, they have promised to do everything they can to give back to the community by supporting local nonprofits and charities such as The Place of Forsyth.
Smith said the PWB Joy of Hope Foundation was “a tremendous help” with the Thanksgiving boxes this year, donating 165 total boxes.
The couple said their original goal was to donate 75 boxes, but the community stepped up in ways that they never could have asked for.
“There were no shortages of kindness this year,” they wrote in a statement. “Our hearts are overflowing, and we can’t thank [the community] enough for believing in the Joy of Hope because we couldn’t have accomplished this alone.”
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The foundation thanked several community organizations and groups who worked to help them and The Place in their efforts this year, including Forsyth County Schools’ Project Life students, the Polo Golf and Country Club, students at McGinnis Woods Day School, Wendy McCarron’s math students at Creekview High School and South Forsyth High School’s girls and boys lacrosse teams.
Just after Thanksgiving, The Place is switching gears to prepare for the upcoming winter holidays, and Smith said they can use all the help and donations from community members as they can get.
It will be especially important to look out for ways to give back to the community just after the holiday on Tuesday, Nov. 30, which will be Giving Tuesday.
An anonymous donor offered to match any donations given by the community to The Place that day up to $20,000. Smith said this donation could give a huge boost to their programs and services leading up to the holidays in December.
“We are very grateful for this donor,” Smith said. “and excited to share that 100% of donations received will go to programs and services.”
Smith said that a recent audit report confirmed that The Place’s thrift store covered 100% of its management and fundraising expenses in 2020.
The Place of Forsyth — where every Person, Dollar and Hour has a PURPOSE — has been serving the Forsyth County community for more than 45 years. For more information, visit www.theplaceofforsyth.com.