With the holiday approaching local organizations are hoping to stuff their shelves with everything needed to make a meal Grandma would be proud of.
Onslow County Community Outreach’s Soup Kitchen and USO North Carolina-Jacksonville are reaching out to the community for help to make that happen.
Both organizations are seeking holiday meal staples including turkeys, hams, canned cranberry sauce, boxes of stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, gravy and pies.
Donations don’t stop at edibles, Soup Kitchen Director Lourdes Garcia said.
“Gas cards would be great,” she said. “We have trucks go out and deliver so they need gas cards. We also need paper products to serve those that come into the soup kitchen like forks, and spoons, and toilet paper and aluminum foil.”
Many of the donations made to the soup kitchen will be placed in dinner baskets given to those who don’t have access to the food necessary for the perfect holiday meal.
The aftermath of Hurricane Matthew is still being felt in the soup kitchen, Garcia said, with the shelves less full than normal.
The kitchen is also increasing the amount of meals they are preparing to send to outlying areas.
“Last year we did about 250 plates and this year we are increasing to 300,” Garcia said. “We will serve about 150 in the soup kitchen and then everyone gets a to-go box as well.”
The soup kitchen is possible because of a combined effort from the county and the community, Garcia said, especially during the holidays when people feel the burden of not having a special meal available to them.
“The soup kitchen is a temporary place where people matter, a location where, for a moment, they can escape from the harsh reality of hopelessness,” she said. “They are greeted by warm meals and friendship with no judgment. The community is what makes the soup kitchen. When we all come together to help out the less fortunate, it makes a difference for them.”
Donations are accepted at the Soup Kitchen, 600 Court St., weekdays from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monetary contributions can also be made online at onslowco.org.
The USO is seeking similar donations of edible, paper and monetary donations to help feed those service members and their families and veterans that may not have the people to make their holiday full.
Each year more than 2,000 service personnel and their families are fed by the USO and volunteers.
Marines training at Camp Devil Dog who are not able to come out of the field will also feel the warmth of a home cooked meal thanks to the USO.
“Not only will we be cooking and serving Marines at Devil Dog but also supporting with our mobile unit,” Center Director Holly Coffer said. “This is a custom trailer complete with gaming stations, wi-fi, TVs, coffee, charging stations, etc. It is literally a USO on wheels.”
The USO is hoping to collect 100 turkeys and 60 hams for the centerpiece of the meals, among other holiday meal staples.
Everything from marshmallows to trash bags will be accepted to help make the holidays a little fuller.
Monetary donations are also welcome.
“This is a decades old tradition that we look forward to each year,” Coffer said. “Knowing that we’re keeping our service members and their families connected to home by bringing a little piece of home to them in the form of a delicious holiday meal provided in a family atmosphere. Also the way in which the retirees and active duty all come together as a family to both serve our current generation of service members and enjoy each other’s company.”
All donations can be dropped off weekdays from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. at the USO, 9 Tallman St.