Thousands of area families will have more to be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday, thanks to Helping Harvest.

With the help of its partner pantries, the food bank distributed 5,000 boxes filled with traditional foods over two weeks.

The Thanksgiving food giveaway is part of Helping Harvest’s continued effort to serve the community during the coronavirus crisis, said Jay Worrall, president of the food bank that serves Berks and Schuylkill counties.

"The Thanksgiving boxes are brand new this year," he said.

In past years, Helping Harvest relied on donated food to meet the community’s needs, Worrall said. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the food bank has been buying about $500,000 in food each month.

"Because we have been purchasing so much food," Worrall said, "we were able to buy whatever foods we wanted, including the traditional turkeys and stuffing."

Worrall said the food purchases were predominately funded by local philanthropic efforts and community giving.

"People have been very generous to us," he said.

All food for the special holiday distribution was ordered and paid for by Helping Harvest, allowing the organization to specifically select the traditional holiday foods.

Each box cost Helping Harvest about $40 and will include a frozen turkey, stuffing mix, canned corn and cranberry sauce, other side dishes and pumpkin pie for dessert.

A team of volunteers packed the boxes at Helping Harvest's warehouse for distribution by partner pantries.

"Those pantries ordered the boxes," Worrall said. "They know who their clients are."

Another 5,000 boxes will be packed with holiday hams and other foods for distribution in December.

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