MRV annual Thanksgiving basket drive begins

No one knew how it started, so volunteer organizer Judy Beningson asked around. Arlie Belknap, former chairwomen for five years, didn’t know. The current hosts, the Mad River Valley Interfaith Council, couldn’t remember. They suggested calling the former, former chair, who said Warren United Church started it. That led to Susan McKnight, longtime pastor at the Warren church, who said, “I came on board as Warren pastor in 2001 and this wonderful tradition was already well-established -- can't say exactly when.”

It’s at least 19 years old.

This year, again, volunteers are running the annual Thanksgiving basket drive, collecting food donations that volunteers ill package for families and individuals in need throughout Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston. The baskets include ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal – turkey, veggies, bread, fruit, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and, of course, pie. In 2018, 61 families – over 200 people – were helped.

This year, Bourne’s Energy is holding a turkey drive. On Saturday, November 9, people are urged to stop by the Bourne’s Energy office in Waitsfield, where a tent will be set up to collect food, checks or cash donations and frozen turkeys.

Gwen Hoadley, the driving force for the new idea, said, “Bourne’s is always looking for ways that we can give back to the community. What better way at this time of year than to host this event to help those less fortunate and reaching out to the community to assist the Interfaith Council in making this a truly warm and fulfilling Thanksgiving for all in the Mad River Valley.”

This community event has already received 30 turkeys from ST Paving and blocks of cheddar from Cabot Creamery. Mad River Food Hub will store food from the Bourne’s Energy drive. Mehuron’s will help buy and store turkeys. And The Valley Reporter and Waitsfield Telecom are supporting food collection sites.

Organizers are asking those who need baskets to reach out via school nurses, the local food shelf or by calling the Mad River Valley Community Fund at 496-3638. Forms are available to indicate how many people each basket will serve and whether the basket will be delivered or picked up.

People who want to donate are asked buy food from the list below or send checks to the Mad River Interfaith Council at P.O. Box 342, Waitsfield, VT 05673. Food and check donations can be also dropped at The Valley Reporter or Waitsfield Telecom offices.

Food shopping list:

(In order to balance the meals, please buy the sizes requested, or close to them, if possible.)

  • Apples (one bag).
  • Applesauce (23 oz.).
  • Biscuit mix (box).
  • Brownie mix (box).
  • Canned fruit (15 oz. can, any type of fruit).
  • Canned vegetables (big cans: corn, peas or green beans).
  • Carrots (1 bag).
  • Crackers (8 oz. box).
  • Cranberry sauce (16 oz. can).
  • Canned/bottled gravy (10 oz.).
  • Onions (1-2).
  • Peanut butter (18 oz. jar).
  • Potatoes (1 bag).
  • Stuffing (1 can/bag).
  • Tuna (12 oz. can).