Eighty boxes of food, including a turkey in every box, helped people in need, thanks to Operation Turkey Box at Georgetown Christian Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Mich.
Pastor Marc Nelesen said the initiative began at the end of October. Members of the congregation were encouraged to submit names of friends, neighbors, and coworkers who might appreciate a Thanksgiving dinner. “Those acquaintances could be unchurched, in need of food, or in need of a reason to have a positive touch point with Christians,” Nelesen said.
The church's renewal team was stunned by the response: 66 names were initially submitted, and another 14 were added for a partner ministry 100 miles away. The project brought an unexpectedly large response from its members.
Church members stepped forward to meet the need, donating turkeys, boxed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry, and other food items to fill the boxes. Others donated money to cover the cost of purchases. Children made paper turkeys and colored them, with the artwork added to each box. Teens filled the boxes with food. A woman who had recently lost her husband put together a recipe instruction book that included her own story of loss and an offering of hope to those who may be struggling with loss during the holiday season.
At the end, the church had leftover food that was added to its pantry and a surplus of donated funds. But perhaps the best part of the story is a call Nelesen received from one recipient after the boxes were distributed. The caller, who had a negative opinion of Christians, said he could not believe the church would undertake an effort of this type and thanked them for their gift.
Nelesen called Operation Turkey Box “a simple way to connect with real needs in our community,” and says it could easily be replicated at other churches.
About the Author
Greg Chandler is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.