COLUMBIA — Almeta Crayton has dedicated the past 14 years to helping other Columbia residents have a full Thanksgiving meal. The need for donations continues to grow this year, as there have been more than 1,500 applications for help.
Crayton started the Everyone Eats program as a single, working mother who wanted to help those who helped her. She said most of those who need help this year are not necessarily unemployed, but "working poor." Everyone Eats has also seen an influx of senior citizens who need to provide for their whole family including grandchildren.
Food donations needed include:
- frozen turkeys
- frozen turkey breasts and drumsticks
- whole chicken
- canned green beans, corn, fruit cocktail and cranberry sauce
- potatoes, onions, butter, eggs and flour
- muffin and stuffing mix
- boxed mashed potato mix and boxed mac and cheese
- sugar free muffin mix
Check donations can be sent to Crayton's home, 409 Oak St. Food donations can be dropped off at St. Luke United Methodist Church, 204 E. Ash St.
She emphasized the need for "big donors" to help purchase not only the turkeys but the trimmings and sides needed for an entire feast.
"Households are really hurting this year, especially as the economy continues to be crazy," Crayton said. "I know what it feels like to not have it, to not have what you're used to."
The food drive's success is supported by donors and volunteers who understand the process that goes into making a complete Thanksgiving Day basket.
Curtis Soul has been helping Crayton for about 10 years. He helps by picking up food and calling potential donors.
"You can make a tremendous difference to someone just by giving," Soul said. "We are helping people who can't help themselves to eat."
Soul pointed out that about 70 percent of those who pick up a meal are women and about 30 percent of these women are veterans.
"We can't forget about our veterans," Soul said.
Crayton hopes to have the baskets for senior citizens done by Saturday so she can have the family baskets done by Monday.
For more information on how to help, call Almeta Crayton at 825-5263. Check donations can be sent to Crayton's home, 409 Oak St. Food donations can be dropped off at St. Luke United Methodist Church, 204 E. Ash St.
"It takes a lot of people to help," Crayton said. "It's Columbia helping Columbia."