Valdosta Daily Times

November 20, 2012

A Thankful Bounty

AMVETS serve Thanksgiving to needy families

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA —  Veterans Post 607 of Valdosta was able to feed dinners to 67 families in need Tuesday through its Thanksgiving basket giveaway campaign.

While AMVETS served 100 applicants for holiday meal assistance in 2011, the numbers this year still represent a success to organizer Renea Crawford, who believes any help is good help.

“With the economic times the way they are, we’re realizing a lot of people don’t have enough food to feed their families, and as veterans we wanted to do something to give back to the community,” Crawford said.

The AMVETS post managed to raise about $1,500 — at mostly the last minute — to purchase the meals for the charity. The organization ran a boot donation drive in the parking lot of the Inner Perimeter Road Walmart parking lot, earning more than $900 during Veterans Day weekend, Crawford said.

The Moody Air Force Base Commissary donated $100 for the charity, and a raffle for two liquor baskets managed another $120. The rest came out of members’ pockets or organizational funds.

The dinners included a basket of turkey, collard greens, dressing, cranberry and canned yams in amounts large enough to feed families with up to eight children, Crawford said. Volunteers delivered 25 of the 67 boxes, and the remaining 42 were picked up on-site between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. by approved applicants.

Needy families were asked to fill out applications for the donated meals to gauge if they qualified for assistance through AMVETS. Volunteers used the number of children as the main criterion, Crawford said.

“Some of them came into the post, and we would bring the applications to other people we knew who might need help,” Crawford said.

Those who qualified were notified of their approval, and asked to provide identification when they picked up the dinners, unless they were delivered. More than 40 volunteers, including mostly veterans or active-duty military and some civilians, helped give away and deliver the meals.

With the basket giveaway complete, AMVETS now turns its attention to its annual Children’s Christmas Party Dec. 22, when the organization will give away 100 bicycles, offer food and bring Santa Claus in on a fire truck, Crawford said.

“It’s the holiday season, which is supposed to be the time when you put away the negative and focus on those who need something, and to realize what you’re thankful for,” Crawford said.