United Way
of Massachusetts Bay
and Merrimack Valley

November 24, 2014

500 Helping 25,000: How the Thanksgiving Project Impacts So Many

See more Thanksgiving Project photos in the Facebook album

150,000 pounds of food (plus the turkeys);

25,000 people who get to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal in their own home;

5,500 Thanksgiving meals distributed in 10 communities;

500 volunteers making a difference and making it all happen.

This weekend, United Way’s annual Thanksgiving Project successfully distributed 5,500 Thanksgiving meal packages to families in 10 local communities – helping 25,000 individuals to enjoy a holiday meal in their own home.

Amy Cohen, of Dorchester, waited in line with a friend for more than an hour at Catholic Charities in Dorchester on Saturday, November 22 to pick up a Thanksgiving turkey and groceries.  “It means a lot… You get the whole family together,” she told the Boston Globe.

It also means a lot to the 500 volunteers who helped pack and distribute the meals.  According volunteer Todd MacLean, who was in Dorchester on Saturday volunteering with his family for the second year in a row, “You feel tired when you’re done, but you feel great.”

Other volunteers and partners from across the region shared their experiences:

Thanksgiving Project isn’t just a one day distribution event when a bunch of people hand out turkeys – it involves months of planning with our corporate and agency partners, and more than 500 volunteers.

This massive effort begins in September, ordering more than 150,000 pounds of food.  Throughout October, United Way and agency partners begin to register the families who will count on the Thanksgiving groceries to feed their families during the holiday week. And as the holiday draws closer in November, our AMAZING partners and volunteers come together to GET. IT. DONE.

  • Stop & Shop donates huge palettes of cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, and more.
  • The Hynes Convention Center provides the space to organize and assemble all the food and bags.
  • UPS helps transport the food – both before and after it’s all packed – and employees stay to help stuff bags, too.
  • And more than 500 volunteers of all ages come with their families, coworkers, and friends to help put together 5,500 grocery bags over the course of 3 days.
  • Finally, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving volunteers across the region spend several hours greeting thousands of grateful neighbors in our communities who will enjoy a Thanksgiving meal in their own home.

“The Thanksgiving Project continues to grow year over year, which is a testament to the support of our donors and volunteers, but also shows how much need remains in our communities,” said Mike Durkin, President of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “These Thanksgiving baskets are so important to a struggling family, not only because they provide a celebratory meal, but because they allow families to enjoy the holiday without sacrificing crucial areas of their budget.”

The event brings together several regional nonprofits including Catholic Charities, Interfaith Social Services, Lynn Housing Authority & Neigborhood Development, Randolph High School, Lawrence Community Works, and Weymouth Food Pantry, serving 10 different communities.

The cost of providing this Thanksgiving meal for a family of 4 is $40 this year, up from $35 two years ago.  If you’re interested in helping cover the cost of a meal for a family, you can still donate to the Thanksgiving Project on our crowdrise site: www.crowdrise.com/thanksgivinghope

See more coverage from the Thanksgiving Project, including:

Boston Globe

WHDH-TV

Patriot Ledger

Lawrence Eagle Tribune