Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Some 260 Thanksgiving baskets prepared by the parishioners of St. Michael the Archangel Church, Woodstock, for the hungry and needy of Cherokee County sit in a conference room three days before delivery.

St. Michael Church Brings Thanksgiving To Others

By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published November 26, 2009

More than 200 volunteers from St. Michael the Archangel Church gave families in Cherokee County a personally delivered Thanksgiving and the knowledge that people care about and support them.

On Saturday, Nov. 21, volunteers delivered over 300 baskets of food, including turkeys, pies, vegetables, butter, dinner rolls and other trimmings, to families and to various agencies serving those in need in the county who will give them to clients.

Chris Berens, parish Life Teen youth minister, has been leading the Thanksgiving basket ministry for 10 years, taking over the reins two years after the program started. It is something close to her heart, as she remembers her grandfather setting an example of giving for her when she was just a little girl growing up in the Chamblee area.

“My grandfather used to go to the grocery store and fill the car with food,” she said. She originally thought all the food was for her family, but “(my grandparents) would only keep two bags for themselves and give the rest away to the needy.”

The seed planted then has blossomed as she invites youth to get involved with the St. Michael ministry. Teens raise the money to buy all of the turkeys by washing cars, holding a silent auction and donating money themselves.

But it isn’t just the teens who are involved, Berens said.

St. Michael the Archangel parishioner Kathy Botti, foreground, joins a host of other adults and Life Teen members as they drop off Thanksgiving baskets and other items for some of the clients at The Hope Center, Woodstock, a Christian ministry providing physical, emotional and spiritual support to women and men facing pregnancy-related issues. Photo By Michael Alexander

“This is a huge community outpouring.”

Through cold calls, help from the parish’s Hispanic ministry and assistance from the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Berens and the parish volunteers found no shortage of people needing help this year. To the homeless, to flood victims, to those affected by family violence, the caring hearts of the parish brought decorated baskets holding the traditional turkey, corn and green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy and more.

Families in Woodstock, Canton, Acworth and other cities were visited. The group also brought nearly 70 baskets to the Cherokee Family Violence Center, which assists women and children recovering from abusive homes, and The Hope Center, a private organization that cares for women in crisis pregnancies, and the Cherokee Department of Family and Children Services.

And it’s especially the children who keep Berens and others coming back year after year.

“What keeps me here is the look on the child’s face,” said Berens. “It is truly the face of Christ. … It is better than any Christmas present.”