United Way distributes meal kits to Berrien, Cass county families

DOWAGIAC — The ACTION Ministries building in Dowagiac was bustling Saturday afternoon as United Way of Southwest Michigan volunteers in colorful T-shirts roamed the halls, ensuring that many local families were able to host a full, traditional Thanksgiving for their families this week.

United Way of Southwest Michigan partnered with Meijer locations in Stevensville and Benton Harbor to host Operation Thanksgiving Saturday. For the event, Meijer donated food items, including turkeys, mashed potatoes, milk, cranberry sauce and other Thanksgiving meal staples for United Way to assemble into “Thanksgiving to go” kits, which were then distributed to low income families in the southwest Michigan area.

Dowagiac’s ACTION Ministries served as one location where 15 meal kits were distributed during Operation Thanksgiving to Cass County families. An additional 135 meal kits were distributed in Benton Harbor to Berrien County families. All families who received the Thanksgiving to go kits called United Way’s 2-1-1 line prior to the event to reserve a kit.

“Supporting the communities we serve, the importance of family, advocating for United Way and combating hunger are all very important to us all at Meijer, which made the decision to support Operation Thanksgiving incredibly easy,” said Rob Vassar, store manager at the Stevensville Meijer, in a statement released by United Way of Southwest Michigan. “Helping families enjoy a special meal together is a very simple way for us to give thanks to our customers and support our communities.”

Kristen Chism, a United Way staff member volunteering Saturday, said that United Way was thankful for Meijer’s donations, saying that the meal kits will help many local families host a Thanksgiving meal that they may not otherwise have been able to.

“There are a ton of families living just within their means or not having enough, so for a lot of families, a true Thanksgiving meal with a turkey and everything is just too much to afford,” Chism said. “This just allows a family to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner without having to worry about how they are going to pay for it. Instead, they can pay for other things that they need.”

Despite the hustle and bustle of Saturday’s event, Chism said she believed the 2018 Operation Thanksgiving was successful, if for no other reason than for the excitement exhibited by the meal kit recipients.

“I think around this time of year, because it’s the holidays, having that little bit of extra to help make their celebrations special is appreciated,” Chism said. “It’s a good thing we are able to do.”

In Dowagiac, the recipients of the Thanksgiving to go kits said they were grateful for the help around the holidays and that the kits will allow them to host a Thanksgiving meal for their families that they can get excited about.

Chuckina Stevenson, 40, of Dowagiac, said she was very appreciative of the meal kit she received Saturday.

“This really means a lot,” she said. “I can have a family dinner without having to piece together stuff. It means a lot to have this free meal.”

Margie Feathers, 63, of Dowagiac, had a similar experience, saying that thanks to Operations Thanksgiving, she will be able to get her whole family together for the holidays.

“This helps a lot. I’m on a fixed income, and money goes too quick,” Feathers said. “This is very helpful. “

News

Niles City Council approves three social district permits

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 867,341 cases, 18,338 deaths

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: April 30-May 3

Berrien County

LMC offering community ESL classes beginning May 17

Edwardsburg

Ontwa Township Board tables short term rental ordinance vote

Dowagiac

DUS honors retiring faculty, staff members

Buchanan

Buchanan master planning enters home stretch

Berrien County

United Way of Southwest Michigan honors community’s resiliency with annual awards

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 865,349 cases, 18,239 deaths

Cassopolis

Cass County 4-H auction items available for viewing

Berrien County

Man who led police on two-state chase headed to prison

Edwardsburg

Ontwa Township/Edwardsburg Police Log: April 26-May 2

Buchanan

Buchanan Middle School threat under investigation

Berrien County

SMCAA celebrates Community Action Month

Berrien County

2021-22 Strengthening Schools grant cycle open

Cass County

Chase leads to the capture of larceny suspects

Education

EPS reports no threat to students following report of suspicious individual

Berrien County

LMC supports Biden’s plan for free community college

Dowagiac

Mobile medical unit providing free ultrasound, STD testing

Berrien County

Niles man, Buchanan woman share experiences from COVID-19 vaccine clinics

Business

Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce celebrates business award winners

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: April 30-May2

Dowagiac

Dowagiac National Guard Hosts Food Truck Muster

Brandywine Education

Tri-County Head Start planning new Cass County facility