Families welcome gift of turkeys

11/29/2013 12:34 PM

11/29/2013 12:35 PM

Even families struggling daily to put food on the table can feel pressure to prepare an elaborate meal at Thanksgiving.

This year, 80 local families will not have that worry. Garner-based Butterball LLC recently donated turkeys to families served by Clayton Area Ministries.

Dale Matthews, the ministry director, received the turkeys Nov. 21 and quickly distributed them, along with the traditional trimmings, to clients from the ministry’s database of needy families.

“We sorted through our files and contacted those that had four or more members in their household,” Matthews said.

Stephanie Pena of Clayton was among the grateful recipients. Her husband, Hector, lost his construction job five years ago when the housing bubble burst. They have five children ranging in age from 18 months to 17 years.

“When the recession hit, I walked into CAM for the first time,” Pena said. “It was a very humbling experience.”

On Thanksgiving, Pena said, her family would say an extra blessing for the generous holiday feast.

“For many families, the cost of their Thanksgiving meal is a week’s worth of groceries,” Pena said. “That’s a lot to have to pay for just one day.”

Cleveland area residents James and Kathi Booth have also fallen upon hard times. James, 56, is battling stage III colon cancer and has been out of work since April. He has undergone two major surgeries and now chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Kathi Booth, 49, has been searching for work since July with little success. She had to quit her job managing a retail business after surviving her own cancer scare. She said she’ll accept anything from waitressing to secretarial work.

“There’s nothing out there,” Kathi Booth said. “I’ve been putting out applications everywhere.”

The couple’s daughter, Jackalyn Ensign, 31, and her son, Anthony Terrell, 13, live with them. Booth said there are months when they aren’t sure how they will pay the mortgage or power bill. She said the ministry has helped the family tremendously in their time of need.

Both Pena and Booth said it’s important to help those who are in similar situations.

Pena’s youngest daughters, Celeste and Maya Grace, were on hand to assist with distributing the turkey donations.

“I want my children to know that this is what God wants us to do,” Pena said. “We shouldn’t take life for granted.”

“I am very grateful to CAM,” Booth added. “If they hadn’t been there for us, I don’t know where I would have turned to.”

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