Hundreds of volunteer packers help Mountaire feed people in need

SELBYVILLE – Over the years it has grown exponentially thanks to inflation of the need the feed hunger.

Upward of 400 volunteers congregated Monday at Mountaire Farms’ Selbyville warehouse to pack family food boxes that will provide a hearty holiday meal for upward of 40,000 people – nearly 30 times that of Mountaire’s initial packing day back in the mid-1990s.

“The first one was 300 boxes. Today, we’ll do 8,500 boxes,” said Mountaire spokesman Roger Marino.

Monday marked the 24th Thanksgiving for Thousands packing event.

Roxana resident Karen Yost would not miss it.

“I have been doing this for 15 years. I started out by myself. Now, Sussex Eye Center does it with me,” said Ms. Yost. “I like to give and give my time. It makes me feel warm. I’m glad a can help. As long as it helps someone, I am glad to be here. This is a great group.”

She arrived early to get a preferred spot on the packing assembly line.

“Usually, it’s the canned goods. Today, I am a corn person,” said Ms. Yost.

Along side Ms. Yost on the packing line were Amy Senseny and Sonia Baker, both with the Bank of Delmarva North Ocean City branch. Their task: pack boxes with stuffing and green beans.

“We heard about this last year and we decided to come out and volunteer,” said Ms. Baker. “We really enjoy it. It really shows how much the community comes together on this holiday to support everyone.”

“I do a lot of community service, so this is just a way of being able to give back,” said Ms. Senseny.

Back again as part of the packing day huddle were members of the Sussex Tech High School football. They were among the school, civic, church, community and veterans’ organizations that participate religiously.

“A few years ago, when I asked the American Legion in Millsboro to give us a hand they willingly came out and worked with us. The commander at that time, Jim Lafferty, said this is a no-brainer. And they have been coming out for about 10 years.

” They just religiously come out. They come out in walkers. Some of their people go all the way back to the Korean War. Again, they wouldn’t miss it,” said. Mr. Marino.

“That is the most wonderful part about this. It has grown into others, into the VFW. Now the Marine Corps has decided they want to come out and help.”

This year, Delaware corrections officers participated, including a food drive that stretched all the way to Wilmington, Mr. Marino said.

Mr. Marino shared the story of one woman who makes it a point to come every year after visiting her family in California.

“She flies in specifically to be here for this. Last year she missed her flight. So, she caught a train, went to the next stop, caught another train and went to the next stop. She wound up in Wilmington. She rented a car and walked in here just as we were beginning to pack,” said Mr. Marino.

“It is incredible what people will do. It has become a family affair. I get calls from people now who will say, ‘I’ve got my family coming in for Thanksgiving, and I asked them to come in a couple says early so they can be part of this.’”

In addition to plump 71/2-pound Mountaire Farms chicken roaster, volunteers packed in each family box corn, string beans, yams, cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and a brownie mix.

Tuesday is distribution day, with the bulk of the family dinner boxes handed out to the identifiable needy at Crossroad Community Church in Georgetown. Boxes will also be distributed in Seaford at St. John’s United Methodist Church and in Milford at the Church of the Nazarene.

Additionally, about 400 boxes will be distributed at Dagsboro Church of God through call-ins with individual pick-up, Mr. Marino said.

For Thanksgiving, Mountaire covered the entire expense for the chicken and all the fixings.

Food collected at collection drives held Nov. 10 at 16 stores on Delmarva along with other efforts will be stored by Mountaire to help feed the identified needy in campaigns for Christmas and Easter.

“We’ll figure what we have, and then we — Mountaire — will purchase more food locally for Christmas, and Easter,” said Mr. Marino. “It is a trilogy. To me, those are the three most important holidays of the year to give honor for what the good Lord has done for us to give back in the community.”

Yet it won’t feed everyone in need.

“When we finish this with 40,000 people fed, there will still be 500 or 600 people on our waiting list, that we know of,” said Mr. Marino. “When people say that things are getting better for everyone, it is getting better for many people but not for everyone. It is the not-for-everyone’s that we want to help.”

Mountaire’s feed the need initiative is zeroing in on a milestone.

“This year, when we finish with our Easter, which is the last leg of the thanksgiving trilogies, we will have fed more than one million people here on the Delmarva Peninsula,” said Mr. Marino.

The effort is enlisting support from the younger generation. Several students, including Colby Johnson of Milford and Will Kenney of Gumboro/Delmar, facilitated very successful collection drives.

Mr. Marino said Colby, in working with schools, banks and the community, collected 141 boxes of canned and boxed food.

“What I want to do is I want to start this ambassadorship,” said Mr. Marino. “I call them ambassadors, where throughout the entire peninsula we will have young people working within the school systems and throughout the community with their peers to supply the food that we would like to have to feed even more people.”


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