A record number of Thanksgiving baskets are reaching people in need in St. Charles Parish thanks to the successful collaboration between St. Charles Parish Department of Community Services and community.
As many as 350 baskets are going to clients in the parish, said Joan Diaz, the parish’s director of Community Services. The number has progressively grown yearly since the drive started nine years ago with 30 baskets.
Volunteers have been busy assembling the baskets since Nov. 18 and clients are picking up the baskets this week.
“It’s a true team effort,” Diaz said. “When the community works together, everyone benefits. The people who need that support have that support, and it promotes people giving because they know the resources are going where they’re supposed to go.”
Recipients include the elderly, disabled and low-income families such as single-parent households or individuals on a fixed income, Diaz said.
Everything is done with donations from community partners, she said.
Every basket includes items for the customary Thanksgiving meal, including a turkey or gift card, side dishes and dessert.
Diaz said they collaborate with other food banks and drives to avoid duplication and ensure more people get help. Even with the parish drive, she said new recipients top the list of recipients, although all clients typically get a basket.
Recipients who seek help from Community Services during the year are put on a waiting list for the baskets, she said. They are also referred for assistance by other agencies.
“We’re reaching more people and eliminating double dippers,” she said. “The food baskets are getting to the people who need it. It’s why the donations have grown over the years. We cultivate he community partnerships with the businesses.”
In donations of cash and items like turkeys, Diaz estimated the giving at $7,000 this year.
And the need is growing.
“Our service data indicates we have more people coming to the food bank throughout the year,” Diaz said. “Now, we’re averaging over 50 bags [of food] a month. We’re the crisis food bank.”
Diaz said every time she goes to the community for support, she gets it.
“I’m always amazed at the level of support some businesses bring to me,” she said. “We have a very generous community.”
Donors include Campo Designs, Joel Chaisson, Destrehan Animal Hospital, Bees are my Business, Cambell Industries, American Legion, First National Bank, Admiral Testing Services, Carol Orgeron, Bunge, Herman Weston, Holy Family Church, Brian Champagne, Council Secretaries, Jesse Duplantis Ministries, Churchill Downs, Crossfit, Valero, Zachery Group, Waterford 1 & 2, Allfax and Anytime Fitness St. Rose.