On Nov. 4, the Black Diamond Foundation issued a challenge to the public to donate $3,000 to the Thanksgiving Feeding Alliance (TGFA). The TGFA, this past Saturday morning, provided hundreds of Citrus County families in need fixings for a turkey dinner. The TGFA registered hundreds of families at the Salvation Army and Daystar during the month of October based on the Salvation Army definition of need according to family size.
In order to meet the need, the TGFA had to raise the money necessary to pay for 500 turkeys purchased from Publix. That is where the Black Diamond Foundation came up with the idea of issuing the challenge. Instead of just donating to the cause, they told the TGFA that if they could get the public to donate $3,000, they would then match that amount. On the day of the food distribution to hundreds of families in need is the presentation of the Black Diamond Foundation $3,000 check by Treasurer Susan Sevard, who is holding the check and is flanked by Sheriff Mike Prendergast on the right and the sheriff's wife Naomi Predergast on the left. Naomi, who is a member of the TGFA Steering Committee, was in charge of organizing the collection of donations at the entrance of two Publix Stores in Inverness and Terra Vista. She enlisted the services of her husband, who helped by manning the tables at both locations on two successive weekend days. Along with volunteers from the non-profit Serving Our Savior at the Terra Vista Publix Store and volunteers from the TGFA Committee and other local volunteers at the Inverness Publix Store. The customers were extremely generous and $2,800 was donated during the three-day collection effort.
These donations along with hundreds of other dollars in donations made by the public mailing checks to Brannen Banks resulted in the challenge more than meeting the original $3,000 challenge made by The Black Diamond Foundation.
The Thanksgiving Feeding Alliance wants to thank The Black Diamond Foundation for their challenge and to the public for rising to the occasion and donating enough to more than meet the challenge so that the total cost of the turkeys could be paid in full shortly after their delivery on November 23rd just in time for the distribution that morning.
The total of all the donations collected covered all of the cost of providing the turkey and fixings to those that registered with TGFA. In addition, the TGFA was able to provide 100 turkeys to Serving Our Savior that provides a separate feeding to others that missed registering with TGFA and another 100 turkeys to The New Church Without Walls International (NCWOW) where Pastor Doug Alexander organized a food distribution on the same Saturday in the afternoon once TGFA completed their distribution. NCWOW held their feeding in the field behind the Brannen Bank in Hernando. Additionally, some turkeys were provided to the Path Rescue and Homeless Shelter and for a hot meal feeding that takes place for veterans in Homosassa.
The TGFA also wants to let the public know that the non-perishable food portion of the turkey dinner was donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). The LDS Church donated $20,000 in various canned vegetables along with bags of beans and rice. This donation came from The Bishop's Storehouse where the LDS Church stores the products they grow on the farming they do on the over 1 million acres of land they farm in Florida as part of the church's mission. The LDS Church is the largest non-government land owner in Florida and uses the items they grow to help those in need. Nothing they produce is ever sold, but is used only to help others in need.
The TGFA also wants to thank the hundreds of volunteers that showed up at the Garden Center Parking Lot of Lowes in Inverness. These volunteers provided the manpower to distribute the turkeys and boxes of other food. In addition, many local nonprofit organizations manned tables to provide information on services that the families in need could access to help them with problems other than food. One of those was the Citrus County Health Department who manned one of the tables proving free flu shots as well as other vaccinations.