WASHINGTON — While Thanksgiving is a day for food, football and spending time with your loved ones, for some, like the clients of Food and Friends, the joyous holiday could not be possible without the help of others.
Staffers and volunteers at Food and Friends work six days a week throughout the year to prepare and deliver nutritional meals to those men, women and children living to HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses.
“It’s a very important issue to take care of people who are sick,” said Scott Linder, Food and Friends volunteer.
And Thanksgiving Day is no different.
“What (Food and Friends) does is really close to me – I lost a sister to cancer about five years ago,” said Paula Christie, another Food and Friends volunteer. “So when I was looking for something to do, that’s how I ended up coming here.”
The nonprofit organization based in Washington has been preparing Thanksgiving meals since last week on top of its normal workload of daily meals.
The highlight is on Thanksgiving Day, said Mark Locraft, Food and Friends’ executive chef.
“We provide (the clients) with a tasty meal,” he said. “A lot of people get teary-eyed.”
And for those 3,000 clients who aren’t able to have a festive meal without Food and Friends, it is natural to get teary-eyed.
“It’s a chance for our clients to host Thanksgiving dinner in a time where they normally wouldn’t be able to do so,” Locraft said.
The organization will be preparing a total of 7,860 pounds of turkey, 1,050 pounds of roasted potatoes, 975 pounds of cornbread stuffing and 5,240 dinner rolls, said Locraft.
“Thanksgiving week is a little crazy,” Christie said. “Chef Mark is already dreaming about turkeys in the middle of the night.”
“Thanksgiving Day is a chance for our staff to shine,” Locraft said.
Locraft and the staff will be preparing 625 turkeys, weighing an average of 12 pounds each.
“It’s an entire team effort,” he said.
Each Thanksgiving delivery will feed about four to five people, Locraft said.
On Thanksgiving Day, the team will arrive at 4 a.m. to set up, prepare and sort the Thanksgiving meals before they are delivered to the clients, Locraft said.
And of course these people don’t mind getting up so early on a holiday.
“It’s giving back, It’s giving thanks for everything that we take sort of advantage of and we don’t stop to reflect on in our daily lives,” Christie said. “That’s why I’m here at Food and Friends. It’s my way of giving back to the community.”
“You just feel that you’re helping people in need and there is nothing better than that,” Linder said. “It’s the greatest feeling.”
Food and Friends does more than provide food, Locraft said.
“We provide a smile on delivery, we give them hope that hopefully the next day is better than the one that they are in,” Locraft said.
To find out more information about volunteering, becoming a client or referring a client, please go to the Food and Friends’ website at www.foodandfriends.org.