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South Dakota Church Delivers Thanksgiving Dinner

South Dakota Church Delivers Thanksgiving Dinner
Every CAP (Caring About People) meal is delivered in a reusable grocery bag.

The people at First Christian Reformed Church in Sioux Falls, S.D., care about people. That’s why they call their annual Thanksgiving meal delivery program Caring About People—CAP. For the past 14 years First CRC has gathered the essentials to make a holiday meal and hand-delivered them to families in their community.

Megan Schouten, director of youth ministry at First CRC, helps direct and facilitate the organization and delivery of the meals. Congregation members pick up an empty grocery bag and are asked to purchase a box of instant mashed potatoes, a jar of gravy, canned vegetables and fruit, boxed stuffing, and pudding mix for each bag. Schouten also encourages each participant to add something of their own choosing to their meal. This can range from a special treat to tableware or a book. The church supplies a turkey or ham for each family as well, asking the contributing congregation members to add $15 per bag to help cover the cost of the meat.

Congregation members return full grocery bags to the church. Volunteers go out the Sunday before Thanksgiving and deliver the meals to families who have requested them. Seventy-five meals were distributed in the first year and about 160 in 2018.

First CRC works with local schools and other organizations to spread the word about this program by handing out forms for families to fill out and return. Schouten said that in previous years they have had Sunday school classes go out and deliver meals, but this year they encouraged families to go out together and deliver meals to other families. “I think parents enjoyed the opportunity not only to serve with their kids, but to be serving other families as a family,” she said.

That has been true for Holly Burns, another organizer of the CAP meal program and the person who kicked it off 14 years ago. “How it started was I had seen a story on the local news about the high percentage of kids that live at or below poverty in Sioux Falls, and it really tugged at my heart,” Burns said. She said the program “has been such a blessing to my family. We have met many families who are so thankful and grateful. Some are so overwhelmed that we would care enough to do something for them.”

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