Churches unite to feed families at Thanksgiving

From left: Fathers Gabriel Kamienski and Andrzej Jurkiewicz and Gabrielle Golka of St. Ann Parish and Rev. Dr. Mark Winkler of Emmaus Lutheran celebrate exceeding their goal of 100 baskets to assist Volusia Basket Brigade in feeding needy families for Thanksgiving. (COURTESY)

DEBARY | St. Ann Catholic Parish in DeBary and Emmaus Lutheran Church joined together to support the Volusia County Thanksgiving Basket Brigade. St. Ann’s collected more than 100 baskets containing the essentials for a Thanksgiving meal and Emmaus Lutheran completed the baskets by providing gift cards to purchase a turkey or ham.

This is St. Ann’s first year participating in the event. Gabrielle Golka, director of social ministries and family life, learned about it last year and thought “what a great community effort for us to support.” For a decade St. Ann’s held a Thanksgiving Store in partnership with Emmaus Lutheran. Golka said it was time to do something different.

“I thought an achievable goal for our first time would be 100 baskets – we reached our goal and then some!” Golka said. Baskets filled with Thanksgiving fixings included $15 gift cards from Emmaus Lutheran so families could purchase a turkey or a ham.

Amy Hall and her family have run Volusia’s Basket Brigade for roughly 10 years and the event is twice that age. Hall’s team discussed cancelling the event due to COVID-19, but decided, “Now, more than ever, our community needed a hand up and we really wanted to come together.”

The fulltime mom and graduate of Sacred Heart Catholic School in New Smyrna Beach said her family wanted “to give back.” She and her husband, Jason, see themselves as conductors in an orchestra. “You can be up there waving a stick, but it really takes the instruments – our community of businesses and organizations and members to make the music. We just wave the stick.”

Families are nominated or can register on the website. This year’s goal is 3,000 baskets. This year is tight due to COVID-19, but Hall said, “I really believe in the power of this community and the hearts of the people that live here.”

“On Thanksgiving Day, we all celebrate our gratitude to God,” Father Andrzej Jurkiewicz, parochial administrator of St. Ann’s said. “On that day, the Gospel reading shows to us the healing of 10 lepers, but from this number only one comes back and shows his gratitude to Jesus. With this in mind, we are all children of God and we all must give thanks to God and remember others.” The baskets will be distributed Nov. 21.

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, November 16, 2020