GREENFIELD — An annual free Thanksgiving meal event provides more than just turkey and stuffing for those in need.
The Lisa Muegge Feast of Plenty, now in its 12th year, provides free meals, groceries and backpacks filled with supplies for those who need them, organizers said.
Volunteers expect to hand out some 200 bags of groceries this year, and a local nonprofit annually provides about 75 satchels with toiletries, clothes and food for those in need.
Feast of Plenty organizers are now accepting donations of groceries. Bags should include one jar of jelly, one jar of peanut butter, one jar of pasta sauce, one box of pasta, one bar of soap, a four-pack of toilet paper, a small bottle of liquid laundry detergent and any extras that will fit in the bag, said organizer Janelle Burkhart. Bags with those items can be dropped off at the fairgrounds from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 22 and from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving Day).
A local insurance agency donated 1,000 cloth shopping bags toward the effort, which Burkhart said should last for at least two years of events.
Though Backpacks of Hope founds Jim and Cathy Matthews recently stepped down from their leadership roles with the organization, the nonprofit will maintain its presence at the Thanksgiving Day event, Burkhart said.
Now led by Mental Health Partners of Hancock County executive director Kim Hall, the organization will be called The Navigation Program, but it will still provide backpacks full of supplies to adults and children without a home of their own, according to a news release from the Matthewses.
Founders Jim and Cathy Matthews decided in August to seek new leadership for the organization they created in 2014, citing Jim Matthews’ progressing illness. Jim, who uses a wheelchair because of a neuromuscular disorder, was diagnosed in January with multiple sclerosis as well.
Hall will be joined by Eastern Hancock High School senior Laurie Eells, who last month organized an event to help pack the backpacks ahead of the event.