Sumter United Ministries sends over 150 families home with Thanksgiving turkeys, trimmings

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Down on Artillery Drive, people lined up in their cars Tuesday afternoon to receive food at Sumter United Ministries’ Giving Thanks program ahead of Thanksgiving.

The ministry’s yearly Thanksgiving dinner boxes program bestows more than 150 pre-identified families in need with a turkey and other holiday food items in a holiday-themed box.

From 1 to 3 p.m., people could be seen almost a mile long waiting in line for a pre-prepared Thanksgiving food box.

The coronavirus pandemic changed this year’s holiday program to where Executive Director Mark Champagne said the nonprofit had to establish the holiday program as a drive-through with volunteers placing food boxes inside the cars rather than socializing while the recipients choose their food.

Most of the volunteers for the program were military personnel and others who work or volunteer at the ministry.

Champagne said a few people couldn’t make it on Tuesday, so families also stopped by the ministry on Wednesday to pick up their dinner box. However, they did exceed their turkey giveaway goal of 150 families for the drive-through event.

“It worked perfectly,” Champagne said.

He was glad for the extra help from volunteers and military personnel and perfect weather to perform the holiday drive-through. With plenty of turkeys left over from the event, he said they will be placed in their food pantry to use for the next holiday and year-round.