GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Hundreds of people lined up in the cold rain for hours Tuesday morning outside of Lawndale Baptist Church, where they awaited the 9 a.m. distribution of Thanksgiving meal boxes. People began arriving to the Feeding the 5,000 event as early as 5 a.m., hoping to be among the first 1,000 people guaranteed a full Thanksgiving box--stocked with a full turkey, stuffing, green beans, potatoes, cranberry sauce and apple pie.
Each of the 1,000 boxes is intended to feed a family of five people. Senior pastor Joe Giaritelli said he believes each box can actually feed seven to 10 people, thereby potentially allowing Lawndale Baptist Church to feed up to 10,000 people. Giaritelli said when the first 1,000 tickets for the boxes run out, people can receive one of the 900 overflow boxes--each full of dry food items (excluding the turkey and apple pie). Additionally, Neese's Country Sausage is providing sausages to families unable to receive a turkey.
As of 8 a.m., shortly after the church began allowing attendees into the worship center to seek shelter from the winter weather, Lawndale Baptist Church said it had approximately 200 regular tickets left.
Giaritelli explained his 2,200 church members come together each year to collect canned goods and purchase turkeys for the Feeding the 5,000 event. He said it is a true blessing to be able to witness the gratitude on the attendees' faces when they receive a Thanksgiving meal that they otherwise probably would not have.
Feeding the 5,000 attendee Elaine McKinnon said the Thanksgiving boxes that Lawndale Baptist graciously provides helps her feed her family of seven. She said since an accident, she has been unemployed and looking for work. She said without this free meal, her family would not have a Thanksgiving dinner.
McKinnon said, "I applied for food stamps, but the food stamps have a glitch. So I've been waiting since July... so this is the only way we can have Thanksgiving. And I'm so grateful that they're here."
To Lawndale Baptist Church, she said, "I would like to say thank you so much for being there for people in the community. God bless you, and just I love you."
Distribution is expected to end later Tuesday morning, after a presentation and remarks from Giaritelli.
WFMY News 2