XENIA — Xenia Area Fish Food Pantry has plenty of room for turkeys.
The coveted freezer space — something that was lacking at the old Ledbetter Road facility — is ready.
So Gail Matson, the pantry’s president, is wasting no time preparing for the annual Thanksgiving meal giveaway.
“I’m starting early this year because I think we are gonna just be slammed,” Matson said over the phone Thursday.
Since the pandemic began, the pantry has been busy. Typically, the pantry served around 600 Greene County families per month at its previous location. Last month alone, the pantry served 1,058 families at its new location on Cincinnati Avenue.
“This is on track to be a really good year for us as far as numbers, and a bad year for us as far as we served that many people,” Matson said.
In 2018, the pantry served 7,874 families. In 2019, 7,744 families.
This year, the pantry has served 8,324 families through September.
With that in mind, Matson’s goal is to secure 700 turkeys —“and all the fixin’s” — for the Turkey Day giveaway on Saturday, Nov. 21.
On that day, families will drive into the parking lot, pop their trunk and receive a box full of ingredients for a complete Thanksgiving dinner. Eligible county families are those who have already received pantry services and bring their IDs. Those with A-M last names are invited to stop by 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; N-Z, 12-2 p.m.
During a normal holiday season, the pantry gives out around 500 turkeys. With the obvious need for more this time, Matson is asking the community for help.
She thinks it will cost about $7,000 for the turkeys — 700 at $10 a piece — and roughly $8,000 for all of the sides. The best way to provide a turkey is to donate money to the pantry, she said.
One challenge now is that many grocery stores haven’t been able to sell food outside of their own businesses. Community members can help by purchasing the food needed for the boxes and dropping them off at the pantry. Individuals can also sponsor a meal for a family by purchasing everything but the turkey and writing a note to go with the box.
As older residents continue to stay home, Matson’s pool of regular volunteers has shrunk, so she’s always looking for more. During the giveaway, volunteers will check IDs, run food outside and load cars.
Seven hundred may be the golden number, but Matson said she will gladly accept more turkeys and meal items than that.
“I don’t want to turn anybody away,” she said. “With the additional expenses, we’ve been supported by the community. We’ve been very lucky with that and I hope people will continue to support us.”
How to …
Donate money for a turkey — Contribute to the turkey fundraiser on Facebook (Xenia Area Fish Food Pantry) or online at www.xeniafishfoodpantry.org or by mail to P.O. Box 113, Xenia, OH, 45385.
Donate sides for a meal — Drop off food donations at the pantry, 774 Cincinnati Avenue, Xenia.
Items needed are: stuffing, canned or boxed broth, mashed potatoes, gravy packets, canned green beans, canned corn, mushroom soup, cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin pie mix, Jiffy pie crust, condensed or evaporated milk, macaroni and cheese, canned yams and rolls or bread.
The pantry is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday to accept donations.
Sponsor a family’s dinner — Purchase all of the listed sides and write a note, which will be included in the packed box.
Volunteer — A volunteer form can be found on the pantry website.
Receive pantry services — Call 937-372-8441. Normal drive-through pantry hours are 12-3 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Call 937-502-4498 or follow Anna Bolton, Reporter on Facebook.