Gertrude Walden Child Care Center Provides Thanksgiving Meals For Stuart Residents In Need
Anyone counting their blessings about the quality of community in Stuart would have reached as high as 2,900 recently. That’s how many Thanksgiving meals volunteers provided for free to local families in need.
Taking place over a four-hour period a week before Thanksgiving, the 10th annual “Thanksgiving Community Feed” is organized and operated by the Gertrude Walden Child Care Center in East Stuart.
“We started it just because people were coming in looking for food,” says Thelma Washington, executive director of the center that cares for 119 students. “It started out very small, but it’s grown every year since. People are hurting and hungry.”
The meals—turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie—nourished those from surrounding neighborhoods as well as across Martin County.
Recipients could dine in or take out, and uncooked turkeys offered options for those who preferred to prepare dinner at home. Washington also included residents of Hibiscus Children’s Center, Mary’s Shelter, Safe Space and nearby charities, and made sure the homeless received hot meals—and standing invitations to return as needed.
“We can always drum up food,” she says. “I don’t believe in anybody going hungry.”
The effort gets underway days in advance. Christ Fellowship donated 80 turkeys. Jimmy Smiths Barbeque smoked up to 50 turkeys. Volunteers from Revive Church, TC3 church, the Gary Law Group and City of Stuart officials, among others, helped prepare and serve.
“We had city commissioners, police staff and code-enforcement employees participating in this important endeavor,” says Dave Ross, city manager. “But the real appreciation goes to the fantastic people from the Gertrude Walden Center and the many people who donated food and time to make sure everyone who wanted one received a meal. It is great to be able to give back to the community and to be a part of such an amazing group of people who come together for a greater good.”
Fifteen Stuart police officers participated in the effort.
“I know this side of police work means something to the community, but it also means a great deal to us as individual officers,” says Stuart Police Chief David Dyess. “Yes, you’re helping provide a much-needed Thanksgiving dinner, but hopefully it’s even more—a moment to share a smile, exchange some kind words and just connect on a person-to-person level.”
Photo courtesy of Thelma Washington