The volunteers of the East Georgia Regional Medical Center Auxiliary, together with employees of the hospital, completed their bags of seasonal groceries Monday morning and loaded them into a line of vehicles bound for Christian Social Ministries.
In a tradition that began eight years ago, hospital employees and volunteers work with CSM to augment the food items the Christian charity provides for families in need just before Thanksgiving. In 2011, the effort filled 75 grocery bags. This year 230 bags were prepared, reported David Keene, president of the EGRMC Auxiliary.
“The people at the hospital and the members of the auxiliary gave all of the staple items, which are nonperishable,” he explained, “and then we’re putting in a $15 gift certificate so that they can go to Bi-Lo and buy whatever kind of meat they want.”
So, it could be a turkey, but that’s not mandated.
A decorated sheet of paper attached to each paper shopping bag named the project, “Sharing Thanksgiving” and indicated the food came “compliments of the employees and the Auxiliary of East Georgia Regional Medical Center.”
These sheets were attached to the bags before they were filled and provided an instruction list for donors. Items to be placed in each bag included one box of stuffing mix, one can of cranberry sauce, two cans of vegetables, one box of cornbread muffin mix, one box of instant potatoes, two boxes of gelatin dessert, one box of cake mix, a can of frosting, one bag of candy and a pack of gravy mix.
Just the gift certificates added to the bags were together worth almost $3,500.
The auxiliary, which currently has 53 active members, holds fundraising activities through the year that provide money for the gift certificates and other projects. Costume jewelry sales and scrub sales – of medical uniforms purchased by hospital employees – are a couple of the activities. The auxiliary also receives a portion of the proceeds from the hospital’s snack and beverage vending machines, Keene said.
Some of the bags were distributed later on Monday at the Christian Social Ministries food pantry during a regularly scheduled food distribution, and more will be distributed this Monday, said CSM Director John Long.
The organization’s clients in need visit the pantry twice a month, so the two-week schedule gives everyone who is qualified a chance to receive the donated groceries, he said.
“People really appreciate it,” Long said.