EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 19, 2012

More need help this Thanksgiving

More need help this Thanksgiving

Sharing God’s bounty with others is one way area schools, religious groups and businesses celebrate Thanksgiving.

South Church in Andover wants to get 300 meals for Neighbors in Need in honor of its 300th anniversary of its founding. This is the 21st year the church has conducted the drive led by Morgan and Beth Kiker. Last year, they prepared 241 meals which were distributed to 179 families.

Morgan Kiker said they have collected almost 200 meals so far. That’s a far cry from the six meals they donated from the back of the van when the couple first started. Now they rent a moving van to stack up all the boxes filled with all the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal.

“We certainly feel good. We have a lot that we take for granted and it’s good to help people who would otherwise go without,” Morgan Kiker said.

While it is more difficult with the economic downturn, Morgan Kiker said South Church has always been mission oriented both locally and globally. The Kikers get help from the church’s teenagers, other church members, neighbors and friends.

“Compared to some, we have plenty, so let’s share it,” said Morgan Kiker, a member of South Church for 39 years.

For the past 18 years, students at St. Augustine School and the parish’s religious education program have hosted a turkey dinner drive for Lazarus House. First- to eighth-grade students are given a list of items to bring including pasta, green beans, cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy. Confirmation students were asked to bring peanut butter and juice boxes.

Ken Campbell, director of the St. Martha Food Pantry at Lazarus House, said the donation by the school and others is a blessing. For Thanksgiving they will be distributing between 800 to 900 holiday meals.

”I’m grateful to have the food, but discouraged that the economy has not reestablished itself so people can get jobs,” Campbell said. He said an average of 900 people come on Wednesdays to get supplemental groceries at the pantry.

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