The gift of giving, and receiving
Thanksgiving came early – and in the true spirit of giving – for families at Springfield Housing Authority’s Sullivan Apartments.
Several days before the actual holiday, 46 families received complete turkey dinners, courtesy of the Deliverance Center Ministries Church of God in Christ.
Turkeys, potatoes white and sweet, green beans, stuffing, rice, gravy, corn bread, cranberry sauce, cake mix and frosting were all part of the feast given to families who would not have otherwise been able to afford as much.
SHA Executive Director Denise R. Jordan offered words of gratitude to the people of the church on upper Springfield Street, whose mission is to help others.
“What a wonderful way to express community love and giving,” Jordan said. “So many of our Sullivan families will now have a wonderful Thanksgiving without the stress of buying groceries on a limited budget.”
At Sullivan, Outreach Coordinator Zenaida Burgos helped to organize the Saturday giving event. Residents were asked to come at varying times, and wearing masks, to comply with COVID-19 restrictions and keep everyone safe and healthy. Inside the community room, church members directed residents to tables where items were ready for them, some already bagged thanks to a donation of New England Patriots shopping bags by Big Y World Class Market.
“The resident and I are so grateful for all those who made the donations of the turkeys and the food baskets that were distributed,” Burgos said. “This event would have not been possible without them. We now have many families at Sullivan that will be able to have a great Thanksgiving.”
Besides the groceries, each family with children received books from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Book Rich Environments Initiative.
Due to the global pandemic, people are celebrating the holiday in smaller groups than usual. State and health officials have urged families to have their Thanksgiving dinner in the company of the people they live with, and no one else.
Sullivan residents thanked the church members for their generosity, saying the gifts came at a perfect time.
“Now I can have a nice Thanksgiving with my family,” said resident Yolanda Gonzalez. “I appreciate this so much. We’re keeping it small this year, but it’s going to be great.”
Another resident, Yashira Santana, also gave thanks as she exited the Sullivan community room with her daughter Camilla, and son Wensly, with bags of food in hand.
“I am very grateful for this Thanksgiving dinner. This will make our holiday so much better,” she said. This year, their holiday will be celebrated at home, “with just the three of us,” to keep the risk of COVID-19 down.
Her 10-year-old son noted he looks forward to one thing on the holiday: “I’m going to eat as much as I can,” Wensly said.
Ana Navarro came by with her sons Jaylen, 10, and Javien, 8, happy to receive the gifts of a fine holiday meal.
“We’re very happy with this. It’s something good and very, very helpful,” Navarro said. “It’s just going to be us and my parents this year, and we’re going to enjoy this very much.”
Church members said they were happy to help out, noting that donors within the parish as well as from outside friends outside were more generous than ever this year.
“Our Pastor Mark Baymon Sr. is always interested in giving back, and this season even more so as people are struggling due to the pandemic,” said member Zhane Stone. “We wanted to help our families in need, and are happy to do it.”
She said the parish raised money to pay for the food that was given away.
“People were so generous this year, so much was given for this,” she said.
Jennifer Baymon and her daughter Renee, daughter-in-law and granddaughter of Pastor Baymon, spent the morning helping Sullivan residents get the ingredients they needed for the big holiday dinner.
“With everything that’s going on with COVID, we wanted to help in whatever way possible,” said Baymon. “This year, it’s more important than ever. We want to give people what they need to give thanks, and to have hope.”
Her daughter Renee added, “I like to help because it’s fun. It makes me feel good.”