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Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007 01:55 am

Feeding the hungry

Area charities say donors are stepping up, but more is needed

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ILLUSTRATION BY PAUL LACHINE
Untitled Document Michele Tucker, executive director of Kumler Neighborhood Ministries, says she doesn’t want to see families go without on Thanksgiving.     That’s why her organization and others around Springfield are kicking their efforts into overdrive this week to ensure that families are well equipped and well fed during the holidays.
     Tucker says Kumler Neighborhood Ministries is on track to help more families than usual this year, thanks to Mid-West Family Broadcasting’s “Stuff a Truck” fundraiser, held last weekend. Not only did her organization receive donated nonperishable food items from one “stuffed” semitractor trailer, but she also says the Super Wal-Mart on Dirksen Parkway stepped up and filled a second trailer with items donated by its vendors.
     “The ‘Stuff a Truck’ is icing on the cake for us during the holidays,” Tucker says, “because we get specialty items that we don’t normally buy.      “They’ll make for a very good Thanksgiving meal.”
     Kumler Neighborhood Ministries, an emergency food pantry, can now provide a full holiday meal, including turkey or ham, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, on top of four or five days’ worth of groceries to its clients, Tucker says. This helps, she adds, because the pantry, which normally serves 80 to 90 clients daily, triples it numbers during the holiday season.      “These are people who are concerned about having a Thanksgiving meal for their family,” Tucker says. “At holiday time we see a lot of families that never ask for assistance.”
     Social-service agencies such as the Salvation Army and St. John’s Breadline also lend a hand by preparing Thanksgiving meals for individuals and families who don’t have any other place to go during the holidays.      The Salvation Army received a holiday surprise, says Dave MacDonna, capital-campaign and development director, when members of the First Presbyterian Church called and offered to prepare and serve a Thanksgiving meal to residents of the Army’s emergency shelter and Springfield Overflow Shelter. In addition to serving the 100-plus residents, MacDonna says, the church also donated $3,000 to the Salvation Army for the purchase of a new oven and stove.     Kevin Kindred, supervisor at St. John’s Breadline, says his organization has been preparing a Thanksgiving meal for the area’s families since the Depression era and usually serves 650 people, many of them homeless or low-income. He says the biggest hurdle is getting enough donations to prepare the meal, but all’s well again this year thanks to the annual donation of 30 turkeys from the Illinois Department of Corrections.
     But, he says, the organization can always use additional donations.
Contact Amanda Robert at arobert@illinoistimes.com.
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