Thanksgiving charity drive underway


On Nov. 23, the annual Fight Against Hunger Games event will conclude by handing out more than 400 turkeys and meals donated by numerous Delaware County agencies, businesses, schools and individuals.

The food giveaway will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 23, from 10:45 a.m. until after noon at the old Delaware Area Career Center North Campus located at 1610 state Route 521, Delaware.

Karen Wadkins, fiscal coordinator at the Delaware County Juvenile Court and one of the event’s organizers, said the event has grown significantly since it started in 2015.

“We continue to pull in new agencies and partners to participate,” she said. “This event would not be possible if we were only sticking with the partners we had at the beginning. There’s no way we’d be able to support this. People want to participate and by giving them the opportunity to, it makes it possible for us to really strive for the number 400 (turkeys) this year.”

Anne Flanery, public relations and community education manager at the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities, said it was “easy” to find new entities that wanted to be involved in the charity drive.

“When we reached out to more partners this year, it was really easy to get people involved,” Flanery said. “It shows the giving nature of our community.”

Wadkins said the food drive already has more than 250 turkeys and hundreds of boxes of food donations. She added they have also received more than $2,000 in monetary donations that will be used to purchase whatever is needed when the drive concludes on Nov. 19.

Wadkins said the event’s wide variety of needs allows many people to get involved.

“Everyone wants to participate in their own way,” she said. “From the elementary school kid who brings in a can because he wants to put a pie in his principal’s face or the Backstretch giving us $250 because they want to participate. Everyone’s got an opportunity to give whatever contribution they can to give back to the community. It gives everyone that opportunity to be a part of it. It’s amazing that this community is willing to rally around something as important as food scarcity.”

Wadkins said the Delaware Public Health District will also be on hand to administer flu and COVID-19 vaccines to any interested adults.

Delaware County Juvenile Court Judge David Hejmanowski said it’s fine if families come to pick up food for their neighbors or people they know who may be in need but may lack transportation.

“The point is to get food into people’s hands,” he said.

Hejmanowski added the growth of the annual charity event “speaks volumes about the sense of community here.”

“These are people who we know,” he said. “The sense of caring and wanting to protect the well being of those folks runs through everything these agencies, businesses, and schools do every day. This is just an extension of that.”

Hejmanowski said he’s pleased the event continues to grow, but he added the problem of food insecurity is not exclusive to the holidays and encouraged people to get involved with the Delaware County Hunger Alliance.

“This occurring right now, this time of year, is because of Thanksgiving, but for most of the folks coming through that line for food, food insecurity is not an issue for them just at Thanksgiving,” Hejmanowski said. “Food insecurity is an issue for them year round. I would direct (entities interested in donating) to the Delaware County Hunger Alliance, which is always in need. This is not just a Thanksgiving issue.”

Katie Stenman, Delaware County Juvenile Court administrator, said there’s no requirements in order to qualify to get food at the event.

“If you have to ask yourself that question, whether or not you need a meal, you should come out on Nov. 23 and get a meal,” Stenman said. “We don’t income qualify, and if you have to ask yourself if you’re in need, you’re probably in need.”

Wadkins said she can be reached for more information or for questions about donations at [email protected]. The window for donations closes Nov. 19.

“We’re working all the connections we have, and they are jumping at the opportunity,” Wadkins said. “We’re feeding 400 families. No one agency can do that … (We’re doing) the best for the community that we’re in.”

A photo of food donations from the 2020 Fight Against Hunger Games event. photo of food donations from the 2020 Fight Against Hunger Games event. Courtesy photo

By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

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