SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Carl Gilliard knows what it’s like to worry about putting food on the table for your family. He remembers Thanksgiving in 2009 as a difficult one, reeling from the Great Recession.
Some 11 years later, Gilliard is now a Georgia state lawmaker and the founder of Feed the Hungry, which provides meals to those in need.
He says 2020 has been tough for many, but especially for those who’ve lost jobs.
“People right now are in need of food because they only have so much money, and they question whether to pay their rent or their light bill or buy groceries,” Gilliard said. “(This crisis) is real.”
Back in 2009 after his own family went through tough times, Gilliard vowed to help by starting the charity. Feed the Hungry has done large community holiday meals since then.
But now 2020 means adapting. Gilliard says they need to help those who need food, but they can’t have their large gatherings. Now, they are planning for drive-thru holiday meal giveaways.
This will be the first year that Feed the Hungry has not provided hot holiday meals. Instead, those in need will be receiving food boxes that will contain a turkey, stuffing, canned vegetables and other food items so they can cook a holiday meal.
Monday, Gilliard thanked corporate donors that include the Georgia Ports Authority but said that individual donors are still needed.
“We’re going to be giving out massive amounts of meals and it’s going to take massive amounts of support, ” he said.
He said the average amount of people served for Thanksgiving has been up to 4,000, and he thinks there could be more this year. Gilliard said that anyone who takes part in the event must drive through in a vehicle and that there cannot be walks ups. He says that is because of concerns about safety and that there can’t be a lot of people on foot alongside a large line of cars.
Thanksgiving drive-thrus will be held in Savannah and Sylvania on Tuesday, Nov. 24:
- Savannah: John S. Delaware Center at 35th and Lincoln Streets. The advertised start time is 4 p.m., but Gilliard expects it will begin earlier (about 3 p.m.) because it is getting dark earlier.
- Sylvania: Cail Community Center at 320 Millen Road.
There will also be a Christmas drive-thru in Savannah on Monday, Dec. 23 at the Windsor Forest Community Center.
For both holidays, donations of turkeys, rice, canned, vegetables and other items are needed along with beverages.
To help, call Feed the Hungry at 912-436-7380
To donate online or to register for the toy giveaway at Christmas, visit the Feed the Hungry website.