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Ministry provides holiday meals for needy families

For seven years now, the Turkeys from Heaven ministry in Troy has provided Christmas dinner for those in the area who are less fortunate or, perhaps, unable to prepare a meal for themselves.

And never before has Turkeys from Heaven been more needed or more thankfully appreciated than Christmas 2020.

On Tuesday, 600 turkey meals were delivered to families in Pike and surrounding counties by a cross-section of local volunteers of all ages.

“The number of volunteers was down some because of concerns about the coronavirus and also the restrictions,” said Kelly Sanders, founded and annual organizer of Turkeys from Heaven in Troy. “But the need is even greater this year so providing Christmas meals to those in need was even more important than in previous years.”

Sanders said everyone involved in Turkeys from Heaven 2020 was dedicated to making sure that every one of the 600 Christmas meals was delivered, “even if it took until midnight.”

Sanders said the volunteers are the backbone of Turkeys from Heaven.  “They warm my heart,” she said. “And it’s a blessing to everyone involved in so many ways to know that their efforts have helped make Christmas a little brighter for others in our community.”

Rotarian Bob Mills presented a check to Sanders in the amount of $500 from the Troy Rotary Club in support of Turkeys from Heaven. “Turkeys from Heaven is Kelly’s idea for bringing together a large number of volunteers to help others in our community,” he said. “She and everyone involved do an amazing job of pulling everything together. The Troy Rotarians support Turkeys from Heaven each year in bringing the community together to make Christmas special for so many in so many ways.”

Volunteers were at Cattleman Park early Tuesday morning to begin putting turkeys on the grill and packaging the items to complete the Christmas meal. Command central was a-buzz and, as soon as the turkeys were cooked and dinners were boxed, Turkeys from Heaven meals were ready for delivery.

“I had never realized that there are so many people in need,” said Allyson Outlaw of Brundidge. “And it was even more surprising that so many of them live on the road where we live and I never knew of the needs.”

Outlaw and her daughter delivered Turkeys from Heaven last Christmas and they saw the need and how real it is.  “Seeing the joy on the faces of those who received the dinners was a blessing,” Outlaw said. “So, we wanted to be a part of making Christmas a little brighter for others again this year. Turkeys from Heaven is what Christmas should be about, doing for others.”

For Ally-Anna Outlaw, a senior at Carroll High School, the experience was so meaningful that she wanted to share it with her friends in Ozark and at Charles Henderson High School. “Doing something for others makes you feel good,” Ally-Anna said. “I had heard about people in need but last year I saw what real need looks like and that made a difference in my life. I have friends with me today because they want to experience what Turkeys from Heaven is all about.”

Annette Cooper of Troy picked up 14 dinners to be delivered to St. Paul A.M.E. Church.
“For the will of my Father,” Cooper said. “Today is what He wills for all of us. To do for others.” Cooper said, in doing for others, she receives joy that she cannot begin to explain. “Not, joy, but over joy,” she said. “From old people down the grandchildren, they have grateful hearts. And this year, it’s more important to give because people are out of jobs and don’t have money. I feel like I have so much to be grateful for – just to see the day and be living. So, I need to do for others because I am blessed.”

For Leah Welty and Amy Gaskin, Turkeys from Heaven was uncharted waters.

Not only was it their first time to deliver the holiday meals, they had no idea where their delivers were to be made.

“We don’t know the county roads but we’ll find them,” Welty said, laughing. “We want to be a part of Turkeys from Heaven and help make today a better and brighter day for others.

“This has been a hard year for all of us. We’ve had to change our ways of doing things.”

For Welty, Christmas 2020 will not be spent with a large gathering of family.

“At Thanksgiving, we got together over in Union Springs – outside, at the pond,” she said. “For Christmas, it will be me and my sister. So, it makes me feel good to do something to bring happiness to others.”

For Mallory Prescott and Sophie and Gwen Martin, Turkeys from Heaven is an opportunity to spread cheer outside their family.

“Doing for others is what Christmas should be all about,” Prescott said.

“And “a puppy  … and turkeys … from heaven,” Sophie said.