Multi-agency effort feeds hundreds this Thanksgiving

The Council of Community Services in Gillette, WY (photo credit: CCS)

GILLETTE, Wyo. – More people than ever were able to celebrate Thanksgiving the way they wanted this year thanks to a collaborative effort by the Council of Community Services and St. Matthews Catholic Church. 

This holiday, the idea was to help people that little bit more with CCS, St. Matthews, and several agencies coming together to make sure Campbell County residents in need of aid could celebrate Thanksgiving their way regardless of their financial or employment status.

Hundreds of Thanksgiving Day baskets loaded with items for a holiday dinner were handed out at St. Matthews Catholic Church on Nov. 20 and Nov. 21 to families that met the income requirement qualifying them for aid. The names of the basket recipients were gathered through a collaborative effort by the CCS, Salvation Army, and Campbell County Senior Center.

The number of basket recipients this year was down a little from last year, said Nancy Anderson, outreach director for St. Matthews Catholic Church, who estimated a total of 350 baskets were handed out. 

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(St. Matthews Catholic Church)

Anderson said that the reduced numbers could have been because of an additional Thanksgiving Day offering by the CCS which handed out $50 gift cards to families who signed up for the baskets. 

“We asked that if they received a gift card from the Council, that they didn’t receive a basket,” Anderson said, expressing the church’s gratitude to everyone who donated items for the Thanksgiving Day baskets this year. 

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According to Mikel Scott, CCS executive director, her agency handed out the cards in an effort to give that little extra money that could allow a resident in need to have the Thanksgiving dinner they wanted, not necessarily the one they were given. 

Scott said that handing out gift cards to qualifying residents gave them the freedom to make their own independent choices and the dignity to shop for the food items of their choice. 

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The cards, each of them for $50, were raised through an initiative at Albertsons, that requested shoppers donate as few dollars here or there to raise the necessary funding. It’s been an ongoing project since 2017, according to Avery Kerman, CCS development officer. 

How many cards a family received depended on how many people were a part of it; a family of three could receive one card while larger families could receive a second, Scott said. 

“It’s not a lot, but it’s an opportunity to help out,” Kerman said, adding that the council had given out 200 gift cards as of Nov. 22 but estimated they could give out as many as 300 by the following day. 

Scott expressed appreciation for the help provided by the community and the other agencies that made the gift cards, and Thanksgiving Day baskets, possible this holiday season.