Kelly Sajonia is an Ambassador Volunteer for the Capital Area Food Bank. For more on our Ambassador Volunteer Program, click here.
The week of Thanksgiving involves a flurry of activity for most Americans as they shop, cook, and decorate for the big holiday. Family and friends come together to share a meal and connect as the busy holiday season begins.
In food insecure households, this is not what is experienced in the home without food assistance programs. Thanks to the Capital Area Food Bank’s Kids Cafe® program, children who otherwise would not celebrate with an abundance of food were able to experience a Thanksgiving meal.
As an Ambassador Volunteer for the CAFB, I had the privilege to celebrate community Thanksgiving meals at three CAFB-sponsored after-school sites. Walking into the various sites were the smells of Thanksgiving as food was being prepared. While waiting for their special meal, children laughed and played. Blessings were given, some children read poetry and others sang a chorus before the meal arrived. Overall, there was a sense of community and family that all should experience at Thanksgiving, which would not have been possible without the assistance of Kids Cafe.
Mrs. Hannah Hawkins, Founder and Director of the Kids Cafe site Children of Mine Youth Center, stated without Kids Cafe donations her budget prevents her from providing fresh fruit and vegetables. On my visit, I saw children thrilled to have fresh red grapes following their Thanksgiving meal.
In addition to catering over 50 after-school locations with Thanksgiving meals, Kids Cafe also distributed turkeys and side fixings to the sites to give to families in need. One man I met arrived at a center to pick up his family’s meal box was immensely grateful to have everything he needed provided as a result of the kindness of others.
As I watched children in a large community center giddy with excitement waiting for their table to be called for dinner, it was heartwarming to know this joy was brought to the children and their families by so many who donate, volunteer and work to make a difference at CAFB. It was a blessed Thanksgiving for many as a result.
The Kids Cafe program continues its holiday distributions in December by providing meals for families and fresh fruit for children to take home for the winter break from school. We encourage anyone wanting to get involved to volunteer. To learn more about our fresh produce campaign, click here.