Refuge Corporation distributes more than 450 Thanksgiving baskets
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Refuge Corporation held its 25th annual Community-Wide Thanksgiving Basket Benefit on Tuesday at the Copperas Cove Civic Center, distributing more than 457 baskets.
More than 450 families in need received their free Thanksgiving baskets, which included a turkey, cornbread muffin mix, canned veggies, cake mix, rice, stuffing mix and all the fixings. Recipients had signed up during the weeks before and picked up a free ticket in order to collect their food items. Outside the Civic Center, the line snaked from Civic Center’s front door and coiled around to towards the parking lot. Guests were let inside in small groups, with volunteers escorting them through the line, pulling wagons to carry the food out to each guest’s car.
Right by the front door, people could look through and select a coat or jacket to take with them before they made their way to the registration table where volunteers double checked that the tickets matched up.
The food distributed through Tuesday’s event, which lasted from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., came in part from the 30th annual Food for Families food drive held at the Copperas Cove H-E-B Plus!, but also from local church members and volunteers who donated food and from other organizations, like the Austin Food Bank and My Brother’s House, according to Refuge Corporation Executive Director Joseph Solomon. It was truly a community wide effort, he said, adding that Walmart provided a discount on items that they purchased from the store. All of the “baskets” were double bagged in Walmart bags.
Solomon estimated that the non-profit organization would give away between 40,000 and 50,000 pounds of food during the three-hour event. The group had originally planned for 350 baskets, but 457 families signed up to receive a basket, he added,
The Refuge Corporation is an outreach community service organization under the Christian House of Prayer that started in 1997. They began passing out Thanksgiving bundles 25 years ago but have begun delivering food to neighborhoods in Killeen and Harker Heights and to residents in Copperas Cove as well with their mobile food pantry. Solomon estimated they distribute 20,000 pounds of food each month.
Dozens of volunteers were present Tuesday afternoon to assist the families in need.
“It’s really exciting,” Solomon said. “We see people’s faces. If we can help people in any kind of way- which we know we’re helping. We know we’re seeing people that do not have a meal. They don’t know where they’re going to get their Thanksgiving turkey from, so they’re getting one now, and to see their faces, I don’t have any words. We just love doing what we’re doing. Even though we’ve been doing it for 25 years, we’re not tired of it. A lot of us are still excited; matter of fact, we’re more excited because we still have the drive, we still have the drive to help people. You know, we can’t help everyone, but we can help someone and that’s what it’s all about- helping someone.”
Solomon said Refuge Corporation was glad to be a part of the community of other organizations and churches and individuals who help people.
One of the volunteers, Deborah Frith, spent some time tying the bags of food and passing them down the table to the families.
“I try to do this every year, and it’s a part of giving back to the community and just being a blessing to those that are in need,” Frith said.
Frith said she attends Christian House of Prayer and is part of the Refuge Corporation.
“We attempt as a family - it’s a tradition - to come out every year and participate,” Frith said. “It’s enriching. It’s rewarding. It’s giving of yourself to others, giving of your time. We’ve been taught to give of our time, talents, gifts, possessions and love, so this all encompasses that.”
Her favorite part of helping at the annual event was knowing that someone was helped, she said.
“Just knowing that someone else is able to enjoy this time of year and not go without,” Frith said. “In years past, we were doing this a little bit differently, in terms of allowing everybody to pick from what they had need of, but we find that when we do it like this, we’re able to reach even more people and we’re able to move this along in a more expeditious manner.”