Above all else, Thanksgiving is a time for people to connect with family, friends and other loved ones. It's a day to step away from the normal pressures of life and show gratitude towards those closest to you over a meal of turkey, stuffing, green beans and pumpkin pie that seems to never end.
Sadly, though, not everyone has the means to experience the holiday as they should.
“We have over 30,000 children who don’t know where the next meal is going to come from right here in Prince George’s county,” noted Dan McCabe, a senior director with the Capital Area Food Bank, an organization that aims to end hunger in the D.C. area.
The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation aimed to address this issue by hosting the 17th annual Harvest Feast presented by Ryan Homes at FedExField on Tuesday. With the help of several partners, such as Safeway, Bank of America, PepsiCo, FedEx, Prince George’s County Department of Social Services and Capital Area Food Bank, the Charitable Foundation provided 2,500 Prince George's County families with the necessary food to host their own Thanksgiving dinner.
In total, over 200 volunteers assisted in assembling over 30 pounds of turkeys, and 90 pounds of dry goods for those in need.
"It feels great," said LaShara Roach, a Landover, Maryland native who attended the event. "My family is huge. I have a lot of kids. They're older now, but they still come home every holiday, so [this] is good for our family."
This year’s Harvest Feast is be the 17th annual pre-Thanksgiving food distribution event for Prince George’s County residents in need. This event is made possible through the generosity of our partners and sponsors, specifically, Ryan Homes, Safeway, Bank of America, Capital Area Food Bank, PepsiCo, FedEx, Prince George’s County Department Social Services and the Redskins Charitable Foundation. On Monday, 200 volunteers assisted in assembling 7,500 bags of dry goods, perishables and beverages that were distributed to families the following day, Tuesday, November 12.
Stories like that helped inspire linebacker Jon Bostic, along with several other Redskins, to lend a hand Tuesday. The players passed along the various bags of food and beverages to an oncoming stream of visitors.
"I know how important family is ... so to pass that little stuff down, that’s nothing," Bostic said. "To be able to help them out and give them a meal for Thanksgiving, and to be able to bring a family together ... I cherish this."
Of course, Redskins players weren't the only ones who felt the need to show their support. Among the many volunteers -- both those who helped pack Monday and who handed out the goods Tuesday -- was a group of students from Dunbar High School in Washington D.C. Jalani Foreman, one of the students who helped in transporting goods back to residents' cars, said he volunteered simply to "help out the community."
"Thanksgiving is about helping [those] that don't have [much], to give back and see your family."
Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks agrees, which is why the Harvest Feast holds such significance for the community each and every year.
"The smiling faces, the joy of the people who stood in the cold from 8 o’clock this morning until now speaks volumes regarding the need," Alsobrooks said. "We want to make sure there is no family in Prince George’s County who does not have the same opportunity we do to eat a nutritious meal and to enjoy their families."