BENTONVILLE, Ark. — This isn’t the first time SOCO Church has given away free Thanksgiving meals to the community. Since 2019, the church has helped those in need. Citizens have received a turkey, a pie, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry, rolls, and vegetables.
With inflation on the rise this year, buying food can be expensive. Church leaders say the average meal for a family of ten is $64. and that’s up $11 from last year. Hundreds of cars lined up Tuesday night to receive their Thanksgiving meal.
“We’ve got quite a bit of experience over the pandemic of feeding those who are food insecure and need help during these times. This isn’t our first Thanksgiving meal giveaway we’ve done, but we’re hoping that this is going to be one of the best ones,” said Kelly Stokes, the admissions director at SOCO Church.
The church prepared 250 bags for Tuesday’s meal giveaway, and even delivered meals for “the elderly, or handicapped, or somebody whose car isn’t running right now… We’ve got folks who just don’t have enough money for gas right now,” Stokes explained.
This holiday season the church says its main focus is to support those in the community who need it the most.
"I mean, I get really emotional and excited about it. I think anytime you are able to be with a great group of people who love to serve others you get to feel that presence. You can actually sense it, and you're just doing such great work for people, and it brings a kind of joy you can't buy, and you can't get from a corporation. It's only in giving back,” Stokes said.
This time of year is known as a season of giving, and dozens volunteered and donated to help put a smile on their neighbors’ faces.
“I definitely didn’t expect there to be this kind of turnout, which is amazing. the people that I’ve already met so far have gotten emotional…it’s been really great to see the impact that we’re making… People don’t have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to put food on the table,” said Stephanie Clark, a SOCO volunteer.
SOCO’s mission for this event was to meet the needs of the community, and organizers gave out 300 meals, feeding 3000 people.
“I think that’s a huge part of what SOCO stands for—helping others through community, and being able to show the community that we’re here to support. We’re here to give, and here to give our time... just be able to give back,” Clark explained.
Church leaders told 5news that during the meal giveaway, they had volunteers run to the store to go get 40 more turkeys for families.
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