Non-profit brings Thanksgiving to those in need

Published 1:36 pm Monday, November 27, 2023

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By Jordan Brooks

Hundreds of Claiborne County families were able to celebrate Thanksgiving thanks to one nonprofit and a handful of volunteers.

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The week before Thanksgiving, a new non profit organization, Crossing the Gap, organized a food drive that brought meals to hundreds of local residents throughout the county.

Volunteers packed thousands of boxes with turkey, yams, mashed potatoes and more before moving them onto trucks for delivery.

According to Bishop Tim Goins with Crossing the Gap, distributions started with just two schools, and now the organization is able to assist every school in Claiborne County. That means the organization is able to assist over 200 families and 600 children.

“This is very near and dear to our heart, this is our fifth year doing this. We started with 40 boxes and we have over two hundred this year,” said Goins. “Six hundred kids, and thousands of pounds of food. Most of this has been free, we paid very little for what we got. We are very thankful for the opportunity to be able to do this for our community.”

“We work with our schools, councilors, teachers and they tell us who has the most need,” said Goins.

The children identified by the schools as with the most need are sent home with forms notifying the parents, and the parents fill out and return the form and Crossing the Gap takes over from there. Volunteers with Crossing the Gap set up at schools across the county to distribute the food. Goins says distribution takes place over two days, first targeting the more remote schools.

According to Goins, the food was donated from many different organizations within the community, such as Second Harvest, Powell Valley Schools, HY Livesay, Ellen Myers, the Claiborne County Family Justice Center, Kiwanis club, and several other different community organizations.

Everything that was brought in and donated by the schools and community goes right back into the community, but Goins says the organization uses the schools to filter which families receive these donations.

According to Goins, the Thanksgiving meals that Crossing the Gap provides is based on how many people are in the family, and the other food provided is based on how many children are in a household.

“The reason we do extra is to help while they’re home for the holidays,” said Goins.

Goins said two hundred turkeys were donated and estimated that Crossing the Gap had over 10,000 pounds of food donated, including non-Thanksgiving food items, such as milk, toaster pastries, bread and potatoes.

“This is the first year we’ve ever pulled in community volunteers. We got over 50 volunteers, the majority of them come from Lincoln Memorial University, but some of them come from Englands, Leadership Claiborne, Hearthside Bank, Elevation, and our church Harrogate Christian Tabernacle,” said Goins. “When you factor in the cost we were able to feed a family Thanksgiving dinner for under $4. And all of that we spent [ourselves] we were able to raise ourselves, we had a car show earlier this year, donations from different community partners, we were truly blessed to be able to pull in the funds to be able to purchase what we did but a lot of it was donated.”

Crossing in the Gap was able to feed families for 33 cents per pound of food.

“We raised well over $10,000 this year, and that’s covered everything from the rental trucks to the food,” said Goins.

While Harrogate Christian Tabernacle has been spearheading this project for the past five years, this year was also the Crossing the Gap’s first year.

“Several people in our church got together to put together this nonprofit to course food and other times outside of the church. We just wanted Crossing the Gap to bring churches of all denominations… Whatever the denomination may be, we wanted to have a banner for everybody to come together and be able to do work… Unified to do something collectively for our community,” said Goins.

“We want to love our community, we want to help our community, we want to offer encouragement to our community, and what better way of doing that.”