Evangeline Johnson had to stop working her job in daycare to take care of her bedridden mother with Alzheimer’s disease, especially once her father passed away in May. And thanks to Butterball and Community of Hope, she has something for which to be thankful.
Butterball held its annual turkey giveaway Thursday afternoon at First Baptist Church of Garner, with Community of Hope facilitating the distribution of 200 turkeys along with fixings from other donor groups.
“It’s a blessing to be able to put something like this on the table,” Johnson said.
Butterball will donate roughly 1,200 turkeys to North Carolina families this Thanksgiving season, most in the Triangle, largely through partnerships with food pantry organizations like Community of Hope. Butterball and Community of Hope representatives, along with mayor Ronnie Williams and his wife, mayor pro tem Jackie Johns and councilwoman Kathy Behringer, handed out the frozen birds in an assembly line next to a large Butterball truck in the parking lot.
“This is the best part of the job,” said Butterball CEO Rod Brenneman, who helped hand out the turkeys. “I shouldn’t be able to do this every year. Somebody else should get to go do this. It’s fun to see people – Butterball is just a part of Thanksgiving…. It’s cool to be able to give this to these people.”
Community of Hope Director Amy White said Brenneman’s presence and the donations mean a lot to the community. She said recipients, all of whom are regular Community of Hope clients who receive food from the charity’s food bank, expressed incredible gratitude for the chance at a full Thanksgiving meal.
“They said ‘You don’t understand. My whole family is getting together and we wouldn’t have a turkey.’ It’s single mothers that have children, it’s grandmothers raising grandchildren, it’s senior citizens – and the price of living has gone up so dramatically that they get by on what they can,” White said. “I think Butterball has really proven to the Garner community that its willingness to be a corporate citizen has gone beyond what a normal company would do.”
White also was grateful for other partners who stepped up. She said the women’s group of the Village of Aversboro coordinated a food drive for green beans and stove- top stuffing to go along which each turkey. Alco Custom Cabinets provided cranberry sauce. L&M Produce pitched in potatoes. Able to Serve, an organization that creates opportunities for individuals with special needs to be active in the community, packed the bags.
“It’s just fantastic,” Ethel Curtis said. “It means I can feed all these children (and grandchildren) I got coming home.”
William Dover said he moved to Garner recently and works part time for the Wake County Library system, a job he started last month after being out of work. He talked about the importance of “one word: togetherness” to Thanksgiving after receiving his turkey.
“Now I can call my two sons and put food on the table for them,” Dover said of his sons, ages 22 and 29. “Sometimes you’ve got to put pride down to admit you need help.”