Photo Gallery | Thanksgiving dinner preparations at Christian Center
PITTSFIELD — After an urgent last-minute call for help in supplying Thanksgiving meals, The Christian Center has been overwhelmed by a bounty of donations.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Ellen Merritt, the center's executive director. "The turkeys, the food, the awareness, the money. It's been an amazing outpouring of support. The generosity has been coming in at rapid speed."
Center staff credit an Eagle article that ran over the weekend for raising awareness and generating an instant response to its shortage in food stuffs to prepare the nearly 500 meals that will be delivered to homes and also served hot on site Thanksgiving Day, beginning at noon.
Food pantry and kitchen manager Karen Ryan said since Monday, she and volunteers have sorted through hundreds of new donations.
"We got something like 200 turkeys, stuffing by the carload, rolls and butter and about 50 gallons of milk," she said. "I've been here five years and I've never seen an outpouring like this."
Merritt said donations range from a couple of cans of green beans to a donor who brought by "16 turkeys and a big fat check for $1,200."
On Wednesday, from morning through the afternoon, volunteers worked to peel and chop potatoes and butternut squash, and make stuffing. Ryan said the turkeys were cooked largely in part at the Berkshire County House of Correction, "because they have a bigger facility than ours."
The executive director said the surge in donations has allowed The Christian Center to be able to fulfill last-minute meal requests. It's created a happy challenge: "We're going to need a way bigger freezer," she said.
Extra turkeys that the center can't hold onto are being shared with other community agencies that provide meals like Soldier On, The Salvation Army and Civitan, Merritt said.
Merritt said this experience has renewed and affirmed her sense of confidence in the community. "It's beautiful," she said. "It's our city at its best, helping those in need."