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Food pantry launching drive to sponsor Thanksgiving meals

The Joe LeBlanc Food Pantry is launching its sponsorship drive for this year’s “Feed A Family” program.

From Oct. 3 until Nov. 12, the pantry will be accepting $20 tax-deductible donations to sponsor a family for Thanksgiving. The money will help fill a bag with a full Thanksgiving meal for a needy family, Jessica Lewis, director, said.

“This is our fourth year of the program, and every year, we are seeing more and more support from the community, which is amazing,” she said.

If donors wish to write a check, make sure to write “Feed A Family” in the memo line of the check. Mail it to JLFP, PO Box 1426, Minden, LA 71058. The pantry has a PayPal account at joeleblancfoodbank@yahoo.com, and in order for it to go through for the program, it must be marked for Feed A Family, she said.

If possible, she asks donors to notify them if they wish their contribution to be anonymous, because the names of the donors will be listed on the bags.

Last year, the goal was to distribute 750 Thanksgiving meals to registered clients, and they ended up reaching more than 1,000 families.

“We were able to purchase a few extra items to put in the bags for clients,” she said. “The rest of the funds went into our emergency funds, and we ended up using that during the flood in March, because we had so many flood victims.”

This year, the goal is to feed 750 families, which will feed all of their current registered clients and gives extra for additional families that sign up between now and Thanksgiving. She says in order for a family to receive a bag, they must meet all of the income requirements and be registered by Nov. 1.

Distribution of the Thanksgiving bags will be Saturday, Nov. 19. They will be disbursed along with the normal monthly distributions.

The Thanksgiving bags will include a hen or turkey, stuffing, green beans, corn, sweet potatoes, collard or mustard greens, cranberry sauce and a dessert.

The program began four years ago, about the time their homebound deliveries began, she said. Volunteers went to the home of a woman in her 80s in November 2012 to deliver her monthly distribution.

“We realized she had nothing,” she said. “She had no one to check on her. She had no one to bring her a meal. She had nothing for Thanksgiving. So we reached out to our church and let them know there was a lady who would be alone on Thanksgiving. We asked if they had any extra food on Thanksgiving to go by and visit. We had several ladies from our church that went to visit her, but after that, we realized she’s not the only one.”

Because a program of this magnitude is so expensive, she said, they had no choice but to reach out to the community.

“We reached out to the community for support, and as always, Minden comes through,” she said. “Every year, it’s just gotten bigger and bigger. It’s just as much a blessing to us as it is to the people we are giving the food to, and it’s exciting to be a part of.”