More than 40 million people in the US struggle with hunger on a daily basis. The Thanksgiving holiday can be an especially poignant reminder for those of us whose biggest concern this week is thawing the turkey in time for Thursday's meal, that for one-in-eight Americans securing a meal in the first place is a daunting task.
The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation helped alleviate those concerns for 2,500 families in Prince George County, Maryland by providing Thanksgiving meals at their 16th annual Redskins Harvest Feast presented by Ryan Homes this past Tuesday at FedExField.
Thanks to the support of partners like Ryan Homes, Bank of America, Shoppers Food and Pharmacy, PepsiCo, Prince George's County Social Services and FedEx, —the Charitable Foundation provided families with everything needed to create a Thanksgiving meal at home, including a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, carrots, apples, cranberry sauce, green beans, gravy and beverages. A full meal for those in need.
Among those benefiting from the event is Tamicia Richardson, a mother and a Prince George's County resident. Richardson said growing up Thanksgiving was all about giving thanks, and that she hopes to pass that down to her children.
"[A] Thanksgiving meal is important for families that have a hard time feeding their families or even purchasing something they might not have enough money for," Richardson said. "Thanksgiving is for thanks, so this is more like a thanks, it's a blessing."
Richardson said that growing up, having a homemade Thanksgiving meal with her family was always important, and while she doesn't consider herself as good of a cook as her mom, having the ability to provide a home cooked meal for her family is a blessing in her book.
"I am very glad that the Redskins [Charitable] Foundation and Prince George's County has blessed me with a Thanksgiving basket for me and my children," Richardson said. "We are grateful."
The Charitable Foundation had help from some VIPs to distribute the turkeys, including Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his wife Tanya Snyder, as well as players Jonathan Allen, Kapri Bibbs, Arie Kouandjio and Daron Payne and Redskins alumni Will Montgomery and Mike Nelms.
Payne said Thanksgiving has always been an important holiday in his family, so Harvest Feast was a way for him to help other families celebrate in a similar fashion.
"It means a lot because growing up I always had a big Thanksgiving so I don't know what it would be like not having that Thanksgiving with my family," Payne said. "I know it means a lot to people."
Payne said his favorite part of the event was seeing how people reacted to receiving their turkeys.
"Everybody's happy, people are dancing being that it's the holiday season so it's fun," he said. "Yeah everybody's got a big smile on their face, I wasn't really into the holiday spirit but this definitely put me into the holiday spirit."
This year's Harvest Feast was the 16th annual pre-Thanksgiving food distribution event for Prince George's County residents in need. The event was made possible through the generosity of our partners and sponsors, specifically, Ryan Homes, Shoppers Food and Pharmacy, Bank of America, Capital Area Food Bank, PepsiCo, Prince George's County Social Services and the Redskins Charitable Foundation. On Tuesday, November 13th, volunteers assisted in distributing 7,500 bags of dry goods, perishables and beverages to families.
With 90,000 pounds of food being donated at Harvest Feast, there was some serious need for volunteers. More than 300 volunteers assisted in packaging the food the day prior, and distributing to families on Tuesday including Central High School from Prince George's County, which sent student athletes from all sports to assist families by carrying their groceries to cars.
Central's athletic director Bryan Trueblood said having the student athletes out in the community and helping others can provide them an important opportunity for growth.
"We just try to make sure that the students know there's value in giving back and you can see the excitement of the kids, they really enjoy doing it," Trueblood said. "It's another way for them to get out and meet individuals within the community and make connections, sometimes we don't always have the opportunity to do it."
Trueblood said this event has helped students learn to be a visible part of the community.
"It gives families the opportunity to come together and look back and celebrate on things and I think it's a great conversation starter when they're having dinner, say that yeah they came to FedExField and received meals and turkeys from the organization and they had students from Central High School that actually came out and helped us, walked us to the car," Trueblood said. "I think stuff like that is priceless, you can't put a number on it."