Thanksgiving giveaway puts people in holiday spirit

By Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
Cars line up to pick up Thanksgiving dinners Saturday at the first annual Thanksgiving Dinner giveaway sponsored by MasterKey Ministries, Grand Central Station and Harmony Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday.

The sunrise Saturday greeted a group of area relief organizations preparing to provide Thanksgiving dinner and other staples to people in need. Before lunch time, the group had delivered more than 500 meals to those who face food insecurity in Grayson County.

The first of what is hoped to be a yearly project was put on by MasterKey Ministries, Harmony Missionary Baptist Church and Grand Central Station.

MasterKey Ministries Food Assistance Program Coordinator Crystal Brooks said people started showing up early for the food distribution that was not supposed to begin until 8 a.m. Saturday.

By 6:30 a.m. there were rows and rows of cars lined up on the parking lot of the church across the street from the MasterKey location on FM 1417 in Sherman. Once the parking lot filled and the appointed hour arrived, the cars were led, one row at a time, across the highway and into the circle drive at MasterKey where they were loaded up with provisions provided by MasterKey, Harmony Missionary Baptist Church and Grand Central Station. 

Crystal Brooks and others gather to discuss turkey giveaway Saturday morning in Sherman

Some of those waiting in line were there to help others as well. Brooks said Barbara Chatham shows up every time MasterKey provides food to the public and she waits on the church parking lot, sometimes overnight to make sure she can pick up provisions for people who don't have transportation.

Chatham was picking up for ten people on Saturday who might have had no other way to get those boxed dinners.

"She is so dedicated, she comes every week. She will then spend part of the next day delivering the items," Brooks said of Chatham.

Master Key Food Coordinator Crystal Brooks talks with Barbara Chatham at the Thanksgiving meal giveaway Saturday in Sherman

"She is on a fixed income herself but she says she wants to continue to keep on going as long as she can."

"As long as they can get it out of the car and I don't have to lift it," Chatham said of the people she will deliver the boxes to.

She said she is happy to do what she can for those who need the help and she is thankful for the help provided by MasterKey and the other organizations. She said she doesn't think what she does is all that much because it is something she can do.

"If you stop (doing things for others and yourself) then you have too much time to think about things that you don't need to think about," she said from inside her car on the parking of the church before sunrise on Saturday morning. 

The soon to be 82-year-old woman said she just tries to keep concentrating on the positives in life like people who want to help and do help others instead of the negative.

"It feels like God is providing me the means to do it," she said referring to her one-woman delivery service.

Others in the line of cars also brought friends and neighbors to help with a lack of transportation faced by many people who needed the food. 

Across the street at MasterKey while the cars were getting lined up volunteers from the three agencies sorted through food, made boxes, and moved boxes in preparation for the drive through giveaway that was set up to protect everyone from the spread of COVD-19. 

Ladies work to prepare boxes for the multi organization Thanksgiving Dinner giveaway Saturday morning in Sherman.

"I feel an honor to take part in this program," said Harmony Missionary Baptist Church volunteer Bernita Lowell through her mask.

"We decided to come together so that everyone here in Grayson County could have Thanksgiving on their table and we thank God for the blessings of turkey and food that people have donated for this program," she said of the project.  

"I hate what people are going through (with the pandemic) but I also see blessings coming through. God has come in and made a for those who have lost jobs and those who are in need of food so we thank God for his blessings that we can reach in and help those who are in need."

Grand Central Station Executive Director Karen Bray said they were so happy to be able to partner with MasterKey and Harmony Missionary Baptist Church to be able to multiply the impact that each entity would be able to make on the problem of hunger in the area at this time of the year.

Ladies work to sort the food provided for the multi-organization Thanksgiving dinner giveaway Saturday in Sherman.

Bray said they packed 800 boxes with everything from turkeys to all of the fixings for Thanksgiving.

"We are providing for people who basically would (normally) go from one place to another, a one-stop shop for their Thanksgiving dinner," Bray said. 

That saves people on gas and makes it easier for folks to get a ride to pick up the dinner.

"Transportation is always an issue, but we hope getting the information out in advance gave them a little bit of notice to be able to find a way to come and pick up the items," she said.

Terrie Chapman with Masterkey Ministries helps box food at the multi-organization Thanksgiving Dinner giveaway Saturday in Sherman

"This has been a huge community involvement, a lot of organizations and groups came forward and provided donations to pay for all of the items in the boxes." 

She said the groups hope that providing the food means that families won't have to pick between buying a Thanksgiving dinner and paying their bills to keep their utitlites or roof over their heads. 

"We are trying to make it a special time for these families because of everything that everyone had been going through this year," she said.

Eggs, butter and other provisions sit in boxes waiting to be given to local families facing food insecurity at the Thanksgiving dinner giveaway in Sherman on Saturday.