Real Help for Real Living: How many Thanksgiving boxes do you need?

Anthony MarcianoI need to give a “shout out” to this community for their support of our Thanksgiving community outreach.  While we always had a BIG meal on Thanksgiving Day where we throw open our doors to the community, Thanksgiving Food boxes were a new outreach for us. When we opened our Dove’s Nest women’s division on the West side of Charlotte, the late Dorothy Waddy asked us to be more than a tenant in the community.  She asked us to be a neighbor.  To honor that request, we collected 50 Thanksgiving Food boxes and turkeys that first year.  We wanted it to be more than the random items pulled from a kitchen cabinet.  Each box contained string beans, corn, yams, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, cake mix, pumpkin puree, aluminum pan and a turkey.  I asked two Sunday School classes to assemble a complete Thanksgiving meal.  One member put their items in a Rubbermaid container.  A Thanksgiving tradition began.

From that simple beginning, we expanded the outreach to 100 Thanksgiving boxes the next year.  The third year we went to 250. The fourth year we did 600+.

The fifth year was interesting. My assistant and I agreed we would start planning during the summer.  Unfortunately, she was out sick for 12 weeks.  When she returned, it was after Labor Day.  We got a slow start.  Then an article informed many people about this special outreach.  Where in September we thought we’d never exceed 350 boxes, that year we collected over 1,600.  A moving company loaned us “pods” which proved very helpful.  Another company loaned us box trucks.

Let me take you into the current year.  Our goal was to at least match what we did last year with a goal of collecting 2,000 boxes and turkeys.  I watched you respond to our most fragile neighbors.  Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers, in partnership with Coca Cola donated 500 food boxes.  The next day we received over 1,900 food boxes.  A third day of collection took us over the 3,000 mark.

To distribute the boxes, we have partnerships with schools who identified families in need.  There are also community agencies with whom we share the Thanksgiving boxes.  There was one agency we didn’t hear from.  I decided to text the director and had the most interesting conversation.  This is how it went:

Tony:                Can you use Thanksgiving boxes for your resident?

Agency:           Yes, we need some for our families

Tony:                Give me a number

Agency:            Is 15-20 too many

Tony:                We can do more.  How many do you need?

Agency:            Okay.  We can use 50

Tony:                Or can you use 100?

Agency:            Wow!!!  Yes.

Tony:                Is that enough or do you need more?

Agency:            Can I let you know tomorrow

Tony:                Absolutely.  I appreciate you.

As I watched the text conversation go back and forth, I chuckled because my friend was treating me the way I treat God.  I could have said, Yes, we’ll give you 20 boxes and she would have been happy.  Yet she needed 100 or more.  All I could think of was the Scripture verse that says God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  Yet, too often I don’t want to bother Him for what I need (I didn’t say wanted – but needed).

Good news is that we gave her 100 Thanksgiving boxes.  I hope I gave her more than food; I hope she saw that God wants to meet all her needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  He also wants to do the same for you and me.