The Rev. Jim Watson is borrowing an idea he got from mission work in other parts of the country, and 500 needy families in Toledo are thankful he is.
Today, for the first time in recent memory, volunteers at the Cherry Street Mission will give away prepackaged turkey dinners to 500 families that have been selected by four area churches.
Mr. Watson, who became executive director of the Cherry Street Mission in July, said the turkey giveaway was popular at missions he worked at in other parts of the country, so he decided to try it in Toledo.
This year's giveaway is a “test,” Mr. Watson said, and will end up costing the mission $10,000. With some luck, he hopes to expand the program and give away 2,000 turkey dinners next year. The mission will have no problem giving even that many meals away, he said, based on the need in the community he has seen so far.
Cherry Street Mission serves three meals a day, seven days a week, free to the community's needy. Mr. Watson said volunteers served 30 per cent more meals last month than the previous October. He said he has heard many theories about why hunger still seems to be such a problem, but said he doesn't think any one reason can explain the trend.
“The fact is that even though there's a tremendous prosperity in the country, there's also some very needy people who have been left behind,” he said. “There is still an underclass that has not experienced prosperity.”
In addition to the mission's turkey giveaway, the mission will begin serving special holiday meals on Monday, Mr. Watson said.
The holiday meals dished up by the mission are just some of the Thanksgiving meals being served free to those in need this holiday season. Here is a list of places in Toledo, based on information provided to The Blade, hosting free Thanksgiving meals: