‘Thanksgiving for all’: Chesapeake Utilities helps underprivileged families enjoy holiday

DOVER — The employees at Chesapeake Utilities consider themselves lucky that they have gotten the opportunity to distribute Thanksgiving dinners to underprivileged families for seven years in a row.

They say it is the satisfaction they receive from giving back to the local community and getting the chance to witness first-hand how appreciative the recipients are of the meals as they participated in a Food Bank of Delaware “Thanksgiving for All” food distribution event at the sparkling new Chesapeake Utilities campus in southeast Dover on a cold Wednesday morning.

“We’ve been doing this for the past seven years and I’ve been fortunate to have been involved with it each year doing the packing (of the dinners) at the Food Bank (in Milford) and the distribution every year,” said Sarah Hardy, financial and regulatory specialist for Chesapeake.

“I think the distribution days are definitely the most impactful, because you can interact with the families in the community and it just really warms your heart to know how much Chesapeake’s doing for our friends and family in need.”

It’s the week before Thanksgiving, but that didn’t stop 200 families from lining up and driving through a distribution line behind the Chesapeake Utilities offices that were manned by employee volunteers, who handed out the 200 holiday dinner boxes.

Families for the event were pre-registered by local organizations. They were lined up all the way down the road in their vehicles leading to the distribution point.

“It’s a wonderful way of showing appreciation to all of us who are not as fortunate as others,” said Lucy Goicuria, of Dover. “We’re very thankful for what they do — and we’re blessed.”

Throughout the week, a total of 1,000 meal boxes filled with holiday staples — including a frozen turkey — are being distributed to area families in Kent and Sussex Counties by volunteers from Chesapeake Utilities Corporation.

Steve Thompson, senior vice president of Chesapeake Utilities, gives credit to the employees for their loyalty to the Food Bank’s “Thanksgiving for All” program.

“It’s our seventh year that we’ve been doing this, partnering with the Food Bank, and I think we’re somewhere over giving out 5,000 meals over the seven years,” Mr. Thompson said.

“Last week, our team members packed the meals at the Milford (Food Bank’s) distribution center. We delivered food at Long Neck on Monday, Harrington (Tuesday), Dover (Wednesday), Georgetown (today) and then back in Dover on Friday.

“This year, I think we’ll probably have between 200 and 300 employees that would have been involved either in packing meals last week or distributing meals this week. We’re very blessed to have employees that are really caring and willing to give back to the community that we operate in.”

Kim Turner, communications director for the Food Bank of Delaware, noted that there are more than 114,000 food-insecure Delawareans and it’s rewarding when company’s such as Chesapeake Utilities take an interest in helping their cause to feed the hungry.

“We can’t do it without companies like Chesapeake Utilities,” she said. “This is an annual initiative for Chesapeake Utilities with ‘Thanksgiving for All,’ so we’re very grateful this Thanksgiving.”

Michael McMasters, president and CEO of Chesapeake Utilities, kicked off the event in Dover on Wednesday by presenting the Food Bank of Delaware with a $27,000 donation made by his company to host Thanksgiving food distributions in both Kent and Sussex Counties.

“We’re very fortunate,” Mr. McMasters said. “We’ve got a lot of great employees that work very hard and they generate a lot of value for the company and we want to give back to the community and our employees are very committed to doing that.

“A lot of our employees, we give them the opportunity to do this on company time, and we want to make sure that they’re doing the things that they want to do to help the community. It helps Chesapeake Utilities, it helps the community and it’s good for our employees.”

While it was only around 40 degrees out during “Thanksgiving for All” on Wednesday morning, there were smiles galore — not only from those receiving, but also from those giving.

One could say this event was far from being a turkey.

 

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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