It’s a holiday filled with food for most families, but for others, it’s just another day to cope with hunger.
One Madison-area food pantry is trying to put a Thanksgiving meal on the table for thousands of hungry families this holiday season.
Eighth grader Olive Lemberger is in charge of sorting and delegating at the Goodman Community Center food pantry. She has been volunteering and donating money to fighting hunger in the region since she first heard what food pantries did for the community.
"I mean being five, I was shocked. I was like, 'What? People don't have food?'" Lemberger said.
Lemberger was picked to co-chair this year’s Thanksgiving basket efforts. She said while soup kitchens serve an important purpose, allowing people to enjoy their holiday meals at home is what it's all about.
"It's just very important for the family to come together and cook the meal," Lemberger explained, "because that's half the fun of Thanksgiving, is having your family come together and make the meal."
The food is carted from the pantry to the gym, where Corey Jacob takes over.
"I like to think how many people we bring together,"Jacob said.
A sixth grader, Jacob’s mom was a head organizer for the project years ago. Once he and his dad participated, Jacob said he didn’t want to stop.
"I really like how many people we get to impact every single year," Jacob said, "and it's truly, it's a growing number."
This year, the group is trying to hand out 2,000 Thanksgiving baskets, including enough food for a full meal for the family. That's twice as many baskets as they were able to hand out last year, and they will have to fill up the gym space two times in order to meet the goal. Right now, that floor is fairly empty.
"I'm really hoping we can get enough donations to help out all of these families," Lemberger said. With less than a week left for donations, Jacob is confident his community will pull through and give those 2,000 families something to be thankful for this season.
"It'll fill like crazy," Jacob said. "Definitely a prediction I can almost guarantee."
The Goodman Community Center is collecting donations for the baskets until November 16. They are accepting canned vegetables and fruit, stuffing, pie crusts, canned pumpkin, cranberry, evaporated milk, pie tins, roasting pans, and turkeys.
If the food is not used for the Thanksgiving baskets, it will be put in the food pantry to feed the hungry in the future.
Physicians Plus Insurance is donating up to $5,000 to the cause for "liking" their Facebook page. You can visit their Facebook page for more on that effort.
For more information on the Goodman Community Center food pantry, go to their web site.