Passing the turkey

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By Bob Reichman

More than 100 Sumter families were treated to some much needed holiday help for Thanksgiving as free turkeys and holiday meal provisions were given to needy local families last week.
The occasion was the Sumter County Long Beards Annual Turkey Hunters Care Food Drive that was launched early this month with the hope of providing many needy families in the local community with substantial holiday meals.
“Everybody was really excited about the project,” Gary Marriage, president of Sumter County Long Beards, said Friday afternoon after loading up deliveries earlier that morning. “We got all the deliveries done and people will be cooking up holiday dinners.”
Marriage, along with other organization representatives and supporters, turned out at Winn Dixie in Bushnell last Friday morning to pick up more than 100 turkeys to distribute to needy families along with food bags containing canned and non-perishable items necessary for a family’s holiday dinner. The food bags were stockpiled as supporters contributed to the cause.
Marriage said he was surprised to hear some the stories he was told about how needy some families are – especially this year.
Cornerstone church Pastor Ron Thomas echoed Marriage’s comments. Thomas was at the grocery store to pick up 25 turkeys to deliver to needy families.
“This is a big help financially for these families,” Thomas said. “Especially this year, it’s been rough for a lot of people.”
The food drive will continue until Dec. 7.”Food received after our food drive ends will be donated to a local food pantry to continue helping the needy,” Marriage said.
The Sumter County Long Beards has donated turkeys each Thanksgiving since 2006 and has helped over 500 families in the local community.
Joining in to support the drive are Sheriff Bill Farmer and the Sumter County Sheriff’s Department, the Sumter County Fire and EMS headquarters, Winn Dixie of Bushnell, Wildwood Police Department, and Jackie’s Market in Webster.
While the Long Beards has its roots in hunting, the organization is very active in conservation issues and in providing community support.
For more information or if you would like to join the Sumter County Long Beards please call: Gary Marriage - 793-6814; Shirley Parker - 793-4822 or Kathy Brannen - 793-5852.