Hundreds of cars passed through the Crossway Church parking lot in Sulphur on Tuesday afternoon as the Chickasaw Nation and Feed the Children joined forces to bring No Hunger Holidays to Murray County. Over the course of the afternoon 800 needy families came through to pick up large boxes filled with food and personal care items.
Each family received a 25-pound box of nonperishable food items, a 15-pound box of essential personal care items, and a sack pack filled with Disney books, Dove chocolate and socks for the children.
Rebecca Chandler, executive officer of nutrition services for the Chickasaw Nation, said this is the fourth time they have partnered with Feed the Children to bring similar programs to the area. They held a back-to-school event in Ada in 2016 and another back-to-school event in Tishomingo in 2017. Last year they brought No Hunger Holidays to Ardmore, and this year they decided to focus on Sulphur and Murray County.
“Murray County and Sulphur are very important to the Chickasaw Nation,” Chandler said. “We have a large presence in the area with the Cultural Center, the Artesian, an area office, a senior center, and many other things of that sort. We felt this would be the perfect opportunity to support the citizens of Murray County.”
Chandler said the families helped are identified by local agencies who work with those who are in need of extra help during the winter months. They also bring together the volunteers to work distributing the boxes of supplies. In addition to employees of the Chickasaw Nation, local churches and civic groups have pitched in to work the event.
Shanna Carnes, event manager with Feed the Children, said events like these take weeks or even months to coordinate, and she’s thankful for the efforts of the Chickasaw Nation in getting everything together.
“They are my contacts on the ground, and we organize for weeks in advance,” Carnes said. “They get all the volunteers together and identify all the families. Then I make sure that everything is in order, the truck gets here, and everything comes together.”
Canes said she has organized 17 similar events all over the country since April of this year, but they stay especially busy during the winter months with No Hunger Holidays. She said her favorite part of all of the events is meeting the people they are helping.
“It’s great to be here on the ground and see the families coming through,” Carnes said. “They’re all so appreciative and have a big smile on their face telling us thank you, and I’ve got just as big of a smile as I thank them for coming out.”