First Posted: 11/25/2009
Wal-Mart is usually a busy place on the day before a holiday, and was even more so Wednesday afternoon when a Mount Airy church continued a 16-year tradition of aiding needy area families.
A corner of the store near the produce section was a buzz of activity as shopping basket after shopping basket filled with complete Thanksgiving meals rolled through the doors of a back room. At the end of the makeshift assembly line were the waiting hands of eager volunteers who would deliver them to homes throughout Surry County.
By 8 p.m., the 51 drivers involved had distributed a total of 255 individual meals to area households representing an estimated 1,020 people. That was up from 200 deliveries last year, but the support generated through the effort sponsored by First Baptist Church of Mount Airy enabled the extra need to be met.
With the economy the way it is, we think its a tribute to Surry County, said Woody Jordan, the lead organizer of the annual meals project. Jordan agreed that Surry Countians have a knack of rising to the occasion when economic or other crises occur.
In addition to First Baptist, the distribution is made possible with the help of other area churches as well as donations from the public, and the pre-cooked food is obtained from Wal-Mart at volume prices. Included were a turkey weighing 10 to 12 pounds, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls and pumpkin pie enough to provide a complete meal for a four-member household.
Recipients are determined through contacts with social services, schools, The Salvation Army and other agencies.
Bobby and Bonnie Watson of Mount Airy were among the volunteer drivers lined up at Wal-Mart Wednesday afternoon to receive their allotment of five meals each for delivery. The Watsons route included stops in the Westfield community.
This is our fifth year, said Bobby Watson, who added that the couple enjoys taking the food to the homes and experiencing the joy of giving. Theyre real excited, he said of the reactions usually exhibited by recipients. Theyre happy.
Watson said the delivery experience tends to be eye-opening.
At the other end of the spectrum, Richard and Nancy Pyles were delivering meals for the first time Wednesday, to households in the Mount Airy area.
Weve always wanted to do it, and we used to live in Maryland and we just didnt have the opportunity up there, said Nancy Pyles, who added that the two made a special point to participate this year. She said the couple had been advised that providing the assistance to those in need just brings tears to your eyes.
While the Pyles and Watson couples are associated with First Baptist Church, some of the drivers were people from the community at large who heard about the food deliveries and just wanted to help. Ten new drivers participated in the effort Wednesday, Jordan said.
Not counting this year, it is estimated that about 2,085 families representing some 7,582 adults and children have been assisted since the meals program was launched in 1994.
I guess its a little bit of a rite of passage for First Baptist Church, said the Rev. Chris Aho, associate pastor, as he worked in the back room to prepare bags of food for delivery.
Its not a requirement, Aho added of participating in the annual project, but everybody likes to do it.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.