Students to donate time this Thanksgiving

News

By Nina Underman
<[email protected]> 

Junior Gaebrielle “Briley” Prichodko will not spend her Thanksgiving morning sleeping in late, nor will she be watching parades on television. 

Instead, Prichodko and her family will spend the morning delivering Thanksgiving meals to needy families right here in Hamilton County. 

Hamilton County, home to $3 million houses and top-notch schools, is not the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of residents who are struggling with poverty. 

COMMUNITY AID: Nancy Chance, executive director of the local Good Samaritan Network, unloads canned cranberries. The organization plans to serve 40,000 Thanksgiving meals. GABRIELLE BOWERS / PHOTO
COMMUNITY AID: Nancy Chance, executive director of the local Good Samaritan Network, unloads canned cranberries. The organization plans to serve 40,000 Thanksgiving meals. GABRIELLE BOWERS / PHOTO

However, despite its reputation for affluence, Hamilton County has a large amount of citizens who will require assistance to make it through the upcoming holiday season.

Prichodko, who will be serving Thanksgiving meals for the second year in a row, said she enjoyed the experience last year, but was surprised at the number of people who needed help.

“Last year I was very surprised,” she said. “The people we delivered to were just in Carmel and there were so many other families that needed food.”

The Prichodkos are just a few of the many volunteers who will assist the Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County (GSN) in providing its annual Thanksgiving Dinner at White River Christian Church in Noblesville. This dinner serves needy individuals and families who may not have the means to afford a holiday meal otherwise.

Nancy Chance, chairperson of the Thanksgiving Dinner and executive director of the GSN, said volunteers like the Prichodkos will come to White River Christian Church on Thanksgiving morning to pick up hot meals and distribute them to the homes of specified residents. Later in the day, the GSN will host a sit-down Thanksgiving meal at the church.

With the current state of the economy, organizations across the country are bumping up the number of meals they plan to serve on Thanksgiving Day. 

According to the Indianapolis Star, it was only three years ago 20,000 meals were served on Thanksgiving day by the leaders of the annual Mozel Sanders Thanksgiving Dinner in Indianapolis, a 34-year-old event.

GAEBRIELLE PRICHODKO: “Last year I was very surprised. The people we delivered to were just in Carmel and there were so many other families that needed food.” KAITLYN LAMPE / PHOTO
GAEBRIELLE PRICHODKO: “Last year I was very surprised. The people we delivered to were just in Carmel and there were so many other families that needed food.” KAITLYN LAMPE / PHOTO

This year, they are preparing to serve 40,000, up from 32,500 last year. Chance said this trend is also being reflected in Hamilton County. 

“(Last year for Thanksgiving), we did 1,697 hot meals out the door and then we did approximately 503 sit-downs,” Chance said. “We’re bumping (the number of meals) up at least 20 percent so that we can make sure we have enough.”

Although the poor economy has increased the demand for programs like the GSN’s Thanksgiving Dinner, Chance said it has also made it more difficult to gather the necessary supplies for the meals.

“Donations have been down,” Chance said. “It’s going to be huge this year with the holidays. We’re very concerned.”

According to Chance, the GSN worked with over 15,000 Hamilton County families throughout all of last year.

“We’re seeing lots of situations that most people would not think would be in this county,” Chance said.

In addition to the Thanksgiving Dinner, the GSN will also be giving away food baskets for Thanksgiving. 

A large group of volunteers assembled these baskets with piles of canned foods on Nov. 15 in the morning at the Carmel Meijer.

“Last year we did Christmas baskets for over 15,978 families in Hamilton County,” Chance said. “But this year we’ve seen the statistics and the unemployment and we know we’re going to have more.”

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