EASTON — Easton Church of God on Saturday, Nov. 19, hosted one of the Maryland Food Bank’s Pack to Give Back Local events, distributing 900 food boxes to local churches, organizations and needy families.

There have been 21 packing and distribution events throughout the state this month. Easton Church of God has been hosting this event for six years and serves as the main distribution site for Talbot and Caroline counties.

Church members, students from Chesapeake Christian School and community volunteers packed all 900 meals Friday evening to prepare for Saturday’s pickups. The meals include everything a family needs for a full Thanksgiving dinner — a 12- to 14-poung turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, macaroni and cheese, brownie mix, applesauce and three kinds of vegetables. There are 15 items in each bag.

The church serves 180 families biweekly through its Harvest Hope Pantry, and used that registry and other listings of qualified participants from the Talbot Senior Center, Department of Social Services and Neighborhood Center to begin a list for Saturday’s event. From there, word of mouth traveled and the event grew into the church being the largest distributor on the Eastern Shore for the Pack to Give Back Local this year.

Organizations and families had to preregister for the event. A totoal 230 individual families registered, but the church was prepared with 10 to 15 extra meals for any family that showed up and had not registered ahead of time. Several local agencies placed bulk orders that were distributed between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Family and individual pickups began about 1 p.m. The volunteers checked identification of the registered participants and helped them with getting the meals into their vehicles.

Laurie Cooper of Easton and her two sons were Harvest Hope Pantry participants.

“I am disabled, and I don’t have a whole lot of income coming in, so this really helps us a lot,” Cooper said.

Inside, the church was abuzz with volunteers as the agencies began to pick up their meals. The volunteers consisted of members of the church, Campbells Lane Farm of Preston and individuals from the community. Children and teenagers who helped earned service learning hours.

Outside the church, there was a box truck full of turkeys and packed bags of dry goods lined up ready to go. As the volunteers counted and handed the dry good portion of the meals to the different organizations, there were forklifts loading pallets of frozen turkeys onto trucks.

“We just want to give back to the community there is just so much hurt going on and darkness in the world,” said Kathy Taylor, event director for the Harvest of Hope food pantry at Easton Church of God. “We just want to make sure that we give back, to lighten load a little bit to some families.”

“You can imagine how much it cost to buy all of this, so its just amazing to be a part of it,” she said.

Jennifer Smalls, managing director for the Maryland Food Bank Eastern Shore, said, “The Pack to Give Back Local enables us to help fight food insecurity, which is 47,000 of our Eastern Shore residents are food insecure.”

Smalls was on hand to assist in distribution and to explain where all the food is coming from for these type of events.

“The Maryland Food Bank utilizes sponsorship dollars, raised funds and shared partnership with several agencies that all work together to get that food,” she said.

Throughout the state, more than 44,000 meals will be distributed for Thanksgiving.

Find out more information about the Pack to give back and the Maryland Food Bank at www.marylandfoodbank.org.

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