By Ron Stafford
This Thanksgiving season, many families in our area will enjoy a wonderful meal surrounded by friends and family. In these difficult times, others are not so fortunate. Thankfully, the FEED-A-FAMILY program, directed by Bobbie Bell, helps to fill this need. With a background in fitness, volunteer work, and as a stay-at-home mom, Bobbie has been involved with the program since 2004.
FEED-A-FAMILY started 25 years ago as a Christmas outreach from Kent Island United Methodist Church. It later became a Thanksgiving outreach, where church members collected food and money to buy food to make baskets for the homebound. The baskets were delivered before Thanksgiving, and hot meals were provided on Thanksgiving Day.
In 2004, the name FEED-A-FAMILY was adopted, patterned after the Adopt-A-Bear Christmas program. Last year, FEED-A-FAMILY delivered food baskets to 330 families in the area and gave turkeys and food to other outreach organizations. Thirty-five hot meals were delivered to 11 families, and almost $2000 in gift cards were distributed among 60 families for the Christmas outreach from Union Wesley United Methodist Church.
Today, 18 churches in Stevensville, Chester, Grasonville and Queenstown have teamed up with area businesses, grocery stores, community groups, service clubs, and other organizations to help with this year’s program. The Safeway in Chester has helped in years past, and more stores have been added. “Acme and Food Lion have also agreed to be a part of the program this year,” Bobbie noted.
How is this whole enterprise accomplished? A Turkey Tree/Bulletin Board is placed in a prominent place at the various locations and covered with FEED-A-FAMILY Turkey Tags. People who walk by can pick a tag or two, and information is presented on what is needed to provide a family with food. Those selecting a tag are responsible for delivering their box to the Kent Narrows Outlet location the week before Thanksgiving. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, a team delivers the food to the designated families.
There are other ways that you can help with this great effort. Bobbie and her team can always use extra turkeys and food for those families who call in at the last moment. “We also are always looking for more volunteers who are interested in helping to receive and organize the food, or who can help in delivering the boxes,” says Bobbie. Gift cards also are a welcome option to help fill the needs of families.
There are a few things that FEED-A-FAMILY is not. “Some people think that this is funded by Queen Anne’s County, “ Bobbie added. On the contrary, this is truly a collaboration by local churches and members of the community who honestly care about others. “We’re not a big corporation. And it is really not a food bank.” Bobbie adds, “It’s one time a year…an annual event. We are helping those who are less fortunate at a time when we come together to celebrate families and friends.” Anything left over is given to local food banks in the area, such as the ones at St. Christopher’s or Living Waters.
Bobbie hopes FEED-A-FAMILY continues to grow every year, and would like to see other organizations, such as garden clubs and American Legions, taking tags to help others in our area. “We grow by 30 to 50 names a year, and we would like more churches who want to collaborate in order to meet as many needs as possible.” For more information on how you can be a part of FEED-A-FAMILY, contact Bobbie at 410-827-5345 or through her email address firstname.lastname@example.org.