Flagler’s third-annual Community Thanksgiving Celebration fed 3,000 residents last year.
Flagler’s third-annual Community Thanksgiving Celebration will be held Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 11 locations throughout the county. Free dinners will be served. All will be welcome.
“This really isn’t meant for those who are just looking for a free Thanksgiving dinner,” said County Commissioner Milissa Holland, who created the event in 2009, after hearing of families who were washing their children in swales because they couldn’t afford running water. “The meaning of all this is really about the community … about participation from the residents … neighbors getting to know neighbors.”
Team Feed Flagler, a cross section of volunteers who compete in food/cash collections, was launched in 2010 to expand the dinner’s scope. Last year, a free traditional Thanksgiving meal, prepared by a chef from the Hammock, was served to about 2,500 residents at 10 locations.
Another 400 meals were donated to a local church, and 400 families were sent home with a week’s worth of nonperishables.
This year, with an earlier start date and an extra location, the initiative hopes to feed 4,000 residents and send 1,000 families home with groceries.
Holland presented the initiative at the Monday, Sept. 19, meeting of the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners.
“It’s a great way for the community to come together,” she said, “and establish how important it is — especially during the holidays — for us to come together.”
In the effort’s first year, Holland led her team in raising about $15,000 in two weeks. They prepared enough to feed 2,000 needy residents, at two locations, and ran out of food.
They set their sights higher. Team Feed Flagler was launched. Competition heated up.
In Team Feed Flagler’s inaugural year, Flagler County Tax Collector Suzanne Johnston won the trophy for most money collected, with about $4,000. Sandra Mullen’s Chicks with Cans team won for the most food, with more than 4,000 pounds.
More than $10,000 has been collected in both 2010 and 2009, allowing the team to donate $3,600 to each county food bankseach year, which helped stock shelves for the holidays.
This year, Holland expects an even bigger response.
“There seems to be a lot more participation and a lot more competition, which is good,” she said. “It’s a healthy competition.”
Free transportation is available to residents. There will be entertainment at every dinner location. For the third year in a row, Holland expects to run out of food.
“We know the need is there,” she said. “Unfortunately, the economic conditions have not changed from last year.”
Still, she said she has witnessed an inspiring level of generosity.
“Even when people don’t have it, they give,” she said. “It’s amazing to watch.”
To volunteer to pack groceries, cook, serve, clean up, set up or entertain, call 597-2950.
Chicks With Cans … and coupons
The organization to collect the most food in Team Feed Flagler’s annual holiday drive wins a trophy, which has been in the office of Sandra Mullen, head of the Chicks with Cans team, since last year.
Mullen — who was recently named United Way’s Woman of the Year — created Chicks with Cans with Kim Fitzgerald in 2010, collecting more than 4,000 pounds of food for Flagler residents last Thanksgiving.
The team also brought in 3,000 pounds of peanut butter and jelly in the PB&J Mac ’n’ Cheese Challenge Food Drive earlier this year.
This September, they are sponsoring a coupon collection. Manufacturer, Publix, Target and Winn Dixie coupons can be dropped off at Alliance Financial Partners Inc., in Sunrise Plaza on Florida Park Drive North.
For more, call 517-7699, or email [email protected].
Make checks payable to the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners. Mail to Flagler County Administration,1769 E. Moody Blvd., Bldg. 2, Bunnell, FL 32110.
Nonperishable food donations can be dropped off at the Government Services Building, Palm Coast City Hall, the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce & Affiliates, the Palm Coast Community Center and any manned fire station.