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Donation provides food to vulnerable families at the holidays

Turkey donation at St. Mary's Athens
Food Bank of Northeast Georgia Executive Director Chuck Toney accepts a turkey from St. Mary’s Vice President Mission Services Julie Carter

St. Mary’s Health Care System colleagues and volunteers on the Monday before Thanksgiving donated 218 turkeys – weighing about 3,700 pounds – to the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia and the Greene County Food Pantry to help families in need this holiday season.

Each year, St. Mary’s gives a free turkey to each colleague and volunteer as a token of appreciation for their dedication and service. During the week before Thanksgiving, system leaders personally hand out frozen turkeys at St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens, St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital in Lavonia, St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Greensboro, as well as at ancillary facilities in Athens, Bogart and Watkinsville. Each turkey comes with safe cooking information and preparation tips provided by St. Mary’s food service partner, Metz Culinary.

Turkey donation at Sacred Heart
Turkey distribution continues after sunset recently at St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital. Many colleagues donated their frozen birds to help the poor and vulnerable.

St. Mary’s makes it easy for colleagues to donate their turkey to the Food Bank, if they wish to do so, by simply letting Human Resources know they want to donate their turkey. Then, the Food Bank picks up all the donated turkeys on the Monday before Thanksgiving.

“Every year I’m amazed and moved by the number of colleagues who choose to donate their turkey,” said Montez Carter, St. Mary’s President and CEO. “We’re thrilled that hundreds of colleagues and volunteers love getting these turkeys, and we’re just as thrilled that so many donate them to the Food Bank to help others.”

Turkey donation at Good Sam
Leaders from Good Samaritan Hospital and the Greene County Food Pantry celebrate the hospital staff’s donation of 30 turkeys for the holidays.

Chuck Toney, executive director of the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, said the Food Bank is distributing the 188 turkeys it received to partner agencies for distribution to people in need in the communities those agencies serve.

“St. Mary’s has blessed the community and hundreds of families for many years through the donation of turkeys for Thanksgiving,” Toney said. “God bless all of you and thank you for working through the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia to feed our struggling neighbors.”

Help across a 15-county region

With each turkey weighing 17 pounds on average, St. Mary’s donation represents more than a ton and a half of food that will help families at risk of hunger across Northeast Georgia. The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia provides more than 11 million pounds of food to families through more than 225 soup kitchens, food pantries, senior centers, churches and other non-profit hunger relief organizations in 14 counties: Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Franklin, Habersham, Hart, Jackson, Madison, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Rabun, Stephens, Towns and White.

In Greene County, colleagues and volunteers with St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital donated 30 turkeys to the Greene County Food Pantry. Since its founding in 2007, the charity has served more than 5,500 families, and over 60 percent of those assisted are senior citizens living below the poverty level.

For more information about the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia and the agencies with which it partners, visit www.foodbanknega.org. For more information about the Greene County Food Pantry, visit https://locc.co/serving/hunger/greene-county-food-pantry/.

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