Donations needed for ‘No Hunger Holiday’
By: Mary Ann OToole Holley
Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner can put a dent into anyone’s wallet, but when you’re struggling with unemployment, illness or other issues that prevent a healthy cash flow, turkey, cranberries and all the fixings of the day can be simply out of reach.
That’s why John Callaghan of O’Fallon, a member of the Knights of Columbus in Cottleville, is pulling out all the stops to collect enough donations to provide about 2,000 families with a healthy, bountiful Thanksgiving dinner as part of this year’s No Hunger Holiday program.
“Our goal is to get about 2,000 frozen turkeys, and I’ll be ordering the better part of 2,500 cans of corn, stuffing mix, things like that,” Callaghan said. “Each item isn’t a great expense, but if we had to buy all of these turkeys and fixings without the help of the community, it couldn’t be done.”
In the past three years, the demand for turkeys and all the fixings has risen from 1,400 in 2009 to nearly 2,000 this year. Callaghan says schools and churches are also competing for donations, causing No Hunger Holiday volunteers to scramble even harder.
“This program allows families to prepare dinner in their own homes,” Callaghan said. “It allows them to be with their families at home, rather than at a community center.”
Callaghan said The No Hunger Holiday does not provide food to any one family, but distributes it to some 30 agencies that pick up food on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and distribute it.
“We need all the help we can get,” Callaghan said. “When you see the No Hunger Holiday sign, pick up a frozen turkey or two. Many of the supermarkets will discount the price of the turkey.”
For a minor contribution you can give a family a great Thanksgiving meal, Callaghan said. Turkeys at Thanksgiving time are sold at grocery stores for 50 to 60 cents a pound, amounting to about $5 a turkey.
Any monetary contributions go directly to No Hunger Holiday. There are no administrative costs, strictly volunteer. Anything contributed goes directly to families.
Donations can be dropped between now and Tuesday, Nov.20. Afreezer truck is located at the Knights of Columbus in Cottleville from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day and the weekend before Thanksgiving pickup can be done between noon and 7 p.m.
The first event began 22 years ago when former St. Charles County Judge Frank Conard who worked in the children’s and family courts, established the program providing Thanksgiving dinner for about 120 families. Most were served by Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service in St. Charles County.
“To feed the hungry is doing God’s good work. When you see a No Hunger Holiday sign at the store, pick up an extra 10- or 12-pound frozen turkey,” said Callaghan. “It started as a Knights project, but now we have several other church organizations involved. This isn’t a group concerned about religious affiliation. We are all working to feed families, and there is a growing need in St. Charles County.”
O’Fallon Councilman Jim Pepper said he got involved with helping the No Hunger Holiday after he realized that it helps so many people.
“We’re distributing flyers in our Hutchings Farm neighborhood to collect food, and what’s so neat about this is that not one penny goes to any administrative costs. It goes straight for the families,” Pepper said. “Anything the group gets is donated through a company or corporation. I’m just pitching in; I’m a foot soldier, and this is a charity that I honestly believe in. There are too many organizations out there where only 50 percent goes to the charity.”
Pepper says those wanting to donate turkeys, food or cash can also drop their contribution at his home in Hutchings Farm subdivision, 41 Sanibel Ct., (off Hwy. K), across from Fritz’s Custard. If you need a donation picked up, call Pepper at 379-4090, and he’ll drive to your home to pick up your donation.
“At least give these people one meal. It’s not like going into a shelter or being fed on park benches. It’s a personal thing,” Pepper said. “With help, they can have a Thanksgiving turkey dinner with their family.”
O’Fallon Councilwoman Rose Mack said she appreciates the work Callaghan has done to help feed the poor.
“He’s one of the best volunteers we have in our community,” Mack said. “Last year I dropped off a turkey, and there he was, working away.”
O’Fallon Councilman Rick Lucas said Callaghan is a tireless worker and he applauds and appreciates what he does for the community.