Dowagiac charity donates 50 Thanksgiving baskets to families in need

Published 1:35 pm Monday, November 22, 2021

DOWAGIAC — A local charity is doing its best to make sure families do not go hungry this Thanksgiving.

St. Francis Outreach packed and delivered 50 thanksgiving baskets to Dowagiac-area families in need on Sunday. Baskets, assembled at Holy Maternity of Mary Catholic Church, 210 N. Front St., included a whole turkey with all the fixings for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

The organization received a $500 donation from Wolverine Insurance Company, more than $1,500 from individuals, and one family of church parishioners donated all 50 turkeys for the meals.

SFO President David Hannapel said the need for food assistance in the Dowagiac area is great, so he is thankful to those who donated their time, money and food supplies.

“It’s just a great blessing to see,” Hannapel said. “It’s very humbling to see how grateful people are. It’s a great feeling to help somebody, our neighbors. We’re just trying to help any way we can.”

Founded in 2015 by parishioners from Holy Maternity of Mary Church and Sacred Heart of Mary Church, along with volunteer members of the community, SFO aims to improve the lives of individuals and families in the Dowagiac community through outreach services providing free food and clothing.

The first year SFO held this event, they delivered 19 baskets. Last year, they packed 35 baskets. Saint Francis Outreach member Donna Dodd said she is thrilled with how the program has grown from year to year.

“It’s just like God is working through us,” Dodd said. “The people that have donated in the past are donating again. … We’ve just had a lot of community support. It shows how good-spirited the Dowagiac area is.”

The organization works closely with Dowagiac Union Schools to help identify students and families in need of food and clothing.

“They’re our eyes and ears,” Dodd said. “The schools know which families need help.”

For families who are unable to cook the turkey at home, the group is delivering cooked meals from Family Fare or giving a gift certificate to go out and get dinner.

The endeavor is one of many SFO does for the community. The organization’s backpack program supplies students in need at Dowagiac’s four elementary schools and at Dowagiac Middle School with weekend meals. The organization also hosts clothing giveaways and sponsors various events throughout the year.

Hannapel said this past week the group was notified of a $10,000 grant from the Pokagon Band Fund, which he said will amount to 185 backpacks per week during the school year.

Parishioners from Holy Maternity of Mary Church and Sacred Heart of Mary Church, along with volunteer members of the community, have made it possible for Saint Francis Outreach to continue transforming lives throughout the year.

Donation checks can be made payable to Saint Francis Outreach and mailed to:  P.O. Box 112, Dowagiac, Michigan 49047.