Tons of turkey: Athens hospital makes food bank donations

An annual tradition for St Mary’s

The Athens-based Food Bank of Northeast Georgia is among the recipients of a gift from St Mary’s Hospital: The Greene County Food Pantry and Iris Chandler Ministries are also getting turkeys, more than three tons of them, donated by the hospital on Baxter Street in Athens.

From Mark Ralston, St Mary’s Health Care System...

St. Mary’s Health Care System and its colleagues and volunteers on the Monday before Thanksgiving donated 365 turkeys – weighing more than 6,200 pounds and with a value of more than $9,300 – to the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, the Greene County Food Pantry and Iris Chandler Ministries to help families in need this holiday season.

Each year, St. Mary’s gives a free turkey to each colleague and volunteer as a token of appreciation for their dedication and service. During the week before Thanksgiving, St. Mary’s leaders personally hand out frozen turkeys at St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens, St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital in Lavonia, and St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Greensboro, as well as at ancillary facilities in Athens, Bogart and Watkinsville. Each turkey comes with safe cooking information and preparation tips provided by St. Mary’s food service partner, Metz Culinary.

St. Mary’s makes it easy for colleagues to donate their turkey to those in need, if they wish to do so, by letting Human Resources know they want to donate their turkey or by simply not picking it up. The Food Bank picks up the majority of the donated turkeys on the Monday before Thanksgiving and the other charities receive their turkeys at roughly the same time.

“Every year I’m amazed and moved by the number of colleagues who choose to donate their turkey, but especially this year,” said Montez Carter, St. Mary’s President and CEO. “We have been doing this for more than 10 years, and this is one of the biggest donations we have ever made.

“St. Mary’s and our colleagues are keenly aware that the pandemic has left many more people struggling with food insecurity,” Carter said. “We’re thrilled that hundreds of colleagues and volunteers love getting these turkeys, and we’re just as thrilled that so many donated them to help others in this time of need. It’s a true testament to our core value of commitment to those who are poor.”

Chuck Toney, executive director of the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, said the Food Bank

distributed the 290 turkeys it received to partner agencies for distribution to people in need in the communities those agencies serve.

“St. Mary’s has blessed the community and hundreds of families for many years through the donation of turkeys for Thanksgiving,” Toney said, noting that the charity has seen a 40 percent increase in need this year due to the pandemic. “God bless all of you and thank you for working through the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia to feed our neighbors in need.”

The Food Bank in 2019 provided 12 million pounds of food to families through more than 225 soup kitchens, food pantries, senior centers, churches and other non-profit hunger relief organizations in 14 counties: Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Franklin, Habersham, Hart, Jackson, Madison, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Rabun, Stephens, Towns and White.

In Greene County, colleagues and volunteers with St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital donated 50 turkeys to the Greene County Food Pantry. Since its founding in 2007, the charity has served more than 5,500 families, and over 60 percent of those assisted are senior citizens living below the poverty level.

New this year, St. Mary’s also donated 25 turkeys to Iris Chandler Ministries, a nonprofit outreach ministry in the Athens area that provides financial and other forms of support to disadvantaged families, visits the sick, assists those in nursing homes, and helps those who have suffered a loss.

For more information about the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia and the agencies with which it partners, visit www.foodbanknega.org. For more information about the Greene County Food Pantry, visit https://locc.co/serving/hunger/greene-county-food-pantry/. For more information about Iris Chandler Ministries, please visit their Facebook page.

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Tim Bryant

Tim Bryant hosts Classic City Today, 6-10 weekday mornings on 98.7FM & AM 1340 WGAU in Athens.

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