Michael Jackson has been on the front lines delivering food to less fortunate families in the area in time for Thanksgiving for many years now. He knows the need.
"I've seen some people in really bad shape. I've taken boxes of food to houses with dirt floors," he said. "There are homes where 16 to 20 people are living together in them."
Jackson remains committed to the Operation Feed a Family program he helped to start in 1990 on behalf of local Vietnam Veterans. For the past month he's been gearing up for a concentrated 10-day effort to collect food from the public. That effort starts today.
ServiceMaster has donated the use of a truck for the cause, and the vehicle will be taken to 10 different locations throughout the region where people are encouraged to drop off donations of non-perishable food items, especially items that would help to make a Thanksgiving meal complete.
"We hope to fill the truck up with non-perishable foods," Jackson said. "We have it for two weeks."
All donations are welcome, but among the specific items that would be helpful are cranberry sauce, gravy, canned vegetables, canned fruit and stuffing mix. Monetary donations also are extremely appreciated.
Operation Feed a Family Drop Off Locations
(11 a.m.-3 p.m.)
- Oct. 15 Neiman's Family Market, Alpena
- Oct. 16 Mr. Ed's IGA, Ossineke
- Oct. 17 Kris Mart, Lincoln
- Oct. 18 Save a Lot, Alpena
- Oct. 19 Perch's IGA, Alpena
- Oct. 22 Walmart, Alpena
- Oct. 23 Freddie's Family Market, Atlanta
- Oct. 24 Tom's Family Market, Onaway
- Oct. 25 Morrison's Market, Hillman
- Oct. 26 Glen's Market, Rogers City
"Those are the main items were are looking for," Jackson said. "We want to let people know we're out there and hammering the bricks."
The first stop today is Neiman's Family Market in Alpena, followed by Mr. Ed's IGA in Ossineke on Tuesday, Kris Mart in Lincoln on Wednesday, Save a Lot in Alpena on Thursday and Perch's IGA in Alpena on Friday. The following week, the truck will be set up at Walmart in Alpena on Oct. 22, Freddie's Family Market in Atlanta on Oct. 23, Tom's Family Market in Onaway on Oct. 24, Morrison's Market in Hillman on Oct. 25 and Glen's Market in Rogers City on Oct. 26.
Times for the collection effort at all 10 locations are from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Jackson said around 100 families already have signed up to receive the fixings for a holiday meal that includes a turkey. Volunteers will be registering additional families at each site. Anyone interested in receiving the food for Thanksgiving also may contact Jackson at 255-3522.
Operation Feed a Family coordinates with the Salvation Army and the Volunteer Center's Wish List program at Alpena Community College so as to minimize duplication whenever possible, but helping others is the main priority.
"No one is ever turned away," Jackson said. "We don't care. Just call us."
Last year the program fed over 600 families and the Vietnam Vets are expecting to do the same for 2012. They already have ordered 600 turkeys, with another 100 in reserve.
In addition to Operation Feed a Family, the Vietnam Vets also sponsor a Toys for Kids program. That program distributed toys to over 3,000 children last year. Collections for toys will be announced at a later date.