By JACK PLANCHARD, Special to the Bulletin | Published December 11, 2020
ELLIJAY—Each fall, the Knights of Columbus Council 14181 at Good Samaritan Church holds a drive to collect enough food to feed approximately 100 needy families a Thanksgiving meal.
This annual project typically involves asking members of the parish to buy and donate designated food items which would be collected, organized, boxed up and given out to families in need, along with a turkey. The normal process followed in past years has been very time-consuming and resulted in a significant amount of close personal interactions. Given the restrictions and concerns of COVID-19, the Knights came up with an alternate and scaled-down game plan for 2020 Thanksgiving project.
This year, the Knights reached out to two larger Catholic Churches in the Atlanta suburbs—St. Brigid Church in Alpharetta and St. Ann Church in Marietta–for help. The St. Vincent de Paul groups at both churches quickly and graciously agreed to use their SVdP food pantries’ resources and parish outreach efforts to donate food for the Good Samaritan Knights project. Their generosity provided 80 boxes of the base food needed for this year’s project. This food was safely picked up and transported back to Ellijay and boxed up by the Knights.
This year, parishioners of Good Samaritan were asked to make a monetary donation to buy turkeys and or gift cards from a local grocery to supplement the donated food, and organizers were blessed by a very generous amount of donations in a short time. The announced goal was to raise $2,600 to feed between 75-80 families. Kindhearted parishioners donated just over $4,000, enough for 100 families.
Good Samaritan parishioners, Louis and Nettie Salinas, along with their daughter Melinda Chambers, have been the driving force behind this annual Knight function. They lead the outreach effort to identify and contact families in the Ellijay community who can use a helping hand during the holiday season. Ultimately, 114 families were served.
On Sunday, Nov. 22, these families drove to the parking lot of Good Samaritan church and a group of parish teens assisted the Knights in safely getting the food and or gift cards out to each family. With the $4,000 was raised, the Knights purchased food gift cards from Food Lion to give out to families along with donated food. The store manager, Harry Horick, donated an additional 58 boxes of holiday food from his store toward the effort.
This year’s food drive confirms the adage “where there is a will, there is a way.” This year’s event was conducted safely and effectively and the joy of helping others was realized once again, despite the crazy challenges of 2020.