It’s one thing to visit a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving. It’s another entirely for people who find themselves in difficult circumstances to receive the gift of a complete holiday meal that they can fix for themselves and enjoy with their family at home. That is the premise of The Gift of Gobble, a community project at the Yelm Food Cooperative. This way, “They get to have their holiday with their family instead of going somewhere and standing in line to get a hot meal,” says Project Director Barbara Morando.

The idea began in 2010, when Outreach Coordinator Andrea Levanti envisioned the project and started it with 34 families. Each year, that number has grown and this Thanksgiving the goal is 125.   Morando and her team work with local groups to get the word out.  “We call on every church, all the different denominations, we contact the military, people who are disabled – we try to include the broad spectrum of our community,” she says.

On the business side, the response has been heartwarming. “I was extremely surprised last year when Andrea and I went around to the businesses asking for donations,” Morando says.  “Almost every single one of them gave. The response was impressive considering the economic climate nowadays. I think that they care about their community and their fellow man.”

Morando and her team of volunteers get to see the impact they’re making firsthand when the folks arrive to pick up their feasts. “People are so touched they’re almost in tears. One woman told us she was so grateful to have this meal because otherwise her family would have had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Thanksgiving. Another young couple said they had just moved out here from New York with nothing. They had lost everything in Hurricane Sandy. They were very capable young adults, but had to start completely over. They were extremely grateful to get the meal.”

Anyone who wants to nominate a family can fill out the form at the store and leave it with the cashier. A donation of $65.00 will feed a family of six, plus leftovers. The complete holiday meal, including turkey with all the fixings, side dishes and pumpkin pie, comes in a large shopping tote donated by Patty Reed Designs of Oregon. “They don’t even know us,” says Morando, “but when I called and told them about our project they donated $1,020 worth of shopping totes.”

Those who support The Gift of Gobble also receive a contribution, she says. “It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you’ve done something to intervene in someone’s life that can help a difficult situation.” For more information, visit the Yelm Food Cooperative.

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