Local News

Wilson center helps thousands get Thanksgiving meal

Posted November 25, 2009 7:05 a.m. EST
Updated November 25, 2009 1:23 p.m. EST

— About 2,000 people stood out in chilly air and drizzle for hours in Wilson Wednesday morning to receive a free bag of groceries for Thanksgiving dinner.

Workers and volunteers at the Opportunities Industrialization Center, 801 Reid St. East, handed out 25-pound bags of food, including meat, vegetables and other staples.

The help was well received in a county with an unemployment rate of 11.9 percent in September.

"It's just really a blessing from God," said Bonnie Sugg.

About 50 people had lined up before dawn, and when doors opened at 8 a.m., the line wrapped all the way around the building.

Jerome Winstead said he arrived at 1:45 a.m. to be the first in line.

"If I had waited until 6 or 7 o'clock, I would have been back around the building," Winstead said.

Tekisha Dublin said she got there at 2:30 a.m. to make sure she got some food for her family of seven.

"Now, you've got to get here early, just in case there is not enough for everybody," she said. "The economy the way it is, it's going to run out quick."

Many of those in line shared stories of economic hardship like Dublin's.

"I just got a job in September, but I know we're going to get laid off of that job soon," Dublin said.

The food giveaway also included free health screenings for all those who want them, said Howard Jones, founder and president of OIC.

Last year, OIC had to turn away some people, but this year, donations didn't run out, and everyone who asked for help was able to get at least one bag of food, he said.

"It's a good feeling, yet it's a lonely feeling to know who much is needed, how bad things are," Jones said.