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‘Great Turkey Give-a-way’ to feed hundreds

By Staff | Nov 15, 2018

National Junior Honor Society students at Mariner Middle School, along with Community Cooperative and the Goldcoast Rotary Club of Cape Coral, passed out food to hundreds of residents Wednesday night, providing those in need with a bountiful Thanksgiving meal.

The “Great Turkey Give-a-way,” now in its fifth year, saw just over 300 families receive all of the fixings necessary to celebrate and give thanks while enjoying a traditional holiday meal.

Mariner Middle and Trafalgar Middle partner with Community Cooperative each month to help provide food to those in need, something that’s very fulfilling to all involved.

“We definitely enjoy volunteering here every month. Just seeing how grateful all of the residents are when they come to get their food-and that we’re helping them out-especially our kids and families at the school, makes us feel really good,” said Mariner Middle guidance counselor, Kim Lindmeyer.

She said the students always get excited for the food pantries, and would rather be at school late, helping others, than doing something else.

“There’s so many families that need the extra help to put food on the table. Being able to provide that opportunity is, I think, the most important thing,” she added.

Eighth grader and National Junior Honor Society student Hazel Fitzpatrick finds the experience to be a rewarding one.

“NJHS is really rewarding because you get to give back to the community, the school and the people around you that you care about,” she said. “Holiday time is about families, being together, helping one another, peace and being able to help out families in need. It’s really important.”

She believes giving back to the community is something that’s part of being a good citizen and being part of a community.

Fitzpatrick was stationed with her fellow students, passing out sides to those who lined up, with a smile.

“I like to see the smiles on people’s faces, it’s really nice,” she said.

Community Cooperative holds collections in eight different Lee County locations each month.

This event was a special collaboration for Thanksgiving with Goldcoast Rotary Club, which helped raise money to provide copious amounts of food.

Tracey Galloway, CEO of Community Cooperative, has been involved since 2012, and was encouraged by the large turnout at Mariner Middle Wednesday evening.

“Thanksgiving is really when we ramp things up,” she said. “But this one is special.

“Our mission is to end hunger and homelessness in Lee County, and through that we just want to make sure that people are served with dignity. Part of our holiday mission is to make sure that people, just because you’re in need, or don’t have the money to get an extra meal, that we can help you have a proper holiday and feel normal.”

She said getting to work with the students is always a pleasure, and that they can also learn something from volunteering.

“We love coming to the schools-we do a lot of pantries at schools, and we love the kids,” she said. “They’re also getting to see that everyone has a story and a lot of people that are getting help here are just like them.

“There’s so many different stories that we learn from just having face-to-face contact with folks when they come through. Plus, we’re able to talk to them if they are in need. We’ve got our social services and a lot of other opportunities for us to assist them. So we can make connections beyond just the food.”

Between now and Thanksgiving, Community Cooperative will be hosting three separate pantries in Lee County.

On Nov. 17, they will be at the North Fort Myers Community Park from 8-10:30 a.m.

They will also be in Lehigh and at North Fort Myers High School before the holiday.

For more information about Community Cooperative and their pantries, visit www.communitycooperative.com or visit their Facebook page.

They are located at 3429 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Fort Myers.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj