520 Salisbury families receive deliveries

Ashelyn Garcia was so excited the morning Thanksgiving dinner was being delivered to her house that the 10-year-old with an endearing smile wore a pretty dress.

“It’s going to be really good,” she said, standing on the porch of the Salisbury home she shares with her mother, Nelly, and 12-year-old sister Jaynel Wright, who wouldn’t say what she’ll wish for if she gets the wishbone on her dinner plate.

“I will wish for …” Ashelyn started to say, but Jaynel stopped her.

“You can’t tell your wish or it won’t come true,” she warned.

Nov. 19 was a lovely Saturday morning, unseasonably warm, and the family was one of 520 that received meals, compliments of the Maryland Food Bank’s Pack to Give Back Thanksgiving Food Drive.

County agencies identified families in need and boxes were packed at Emmanuel Wesleyan Church that morning. Volunteers assembled in the parking lot at Baker and Barclay streets, separated into groups and walked door to door, greeting residents and distributing.

Each family received an 11-pound frozen turkey donated by Perdue Farms, green beans, collard greens, boxed macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, corn, applesauce, turkey gravy and mixes for corn muffins, stuffing and brownies, allotted with  smiles, high fives and pleasant conversation heavy with football game predictions.

Mark Thompson, a diehard Steeler’s fan and director of the church’s Adopt a Block initiative, was with the group passing out 77 turkeys and grocery bags.

Adopt a Block volunteers are on the streets every other week, handing out 6,000 pounds of food per month to anybody who needs it, talking to them and praying with them.

Adopt a Block members took part in Pack to Give Back, as did organizations including the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Salisbury University, Salisbury Christian School, MAC Inc. and the VFW.

“We picked out families that could have a Thanksgiving dinner together, depending on need. We had $10 to buy the items for each bag and a lot of people in the community contributed,” Thompson said, as he stepped onto a porch and greeted residents.

“Have a good Thanksgiving. You be blessed, OK?” he told a woman. “You know how to cook the turkey, right?”

“Yes. Oh, yes. Thank you very much,” she said, smiling at him.

A little girl named Princess, who made the news when she was struck by a car after stepping off her school bus two years ago, ran to a volunteer and embraced her.

“Hey, I don’t get a hug, too?” Thompson asked, and she skipped to him.

“Look how big you’re getting,” he said.

“Good morning. Adopt a Block,” a volunteer called, knocking on a door. A bearded man in bare feet, wearing shorts and a winter coat, opened the door, smiled, silently accepted the turkey and waved.

Hilda Barkley stood on the sidewalk talking to friends as an energetic little dog named Tippy danced at their feet.

“I appreciate the way everybody came out to give to the community. I really do,” she said.

Volunteer Andrea Douling lifted a bag from the back of the truck and handed it to her 7-year-old son Isaiah, who dutifully carried it to the next home. His brother, 10-year-old Shaun, furnished coupons for free gallons of milk.

“They feel good about helping out,” said their mother, who works with Thompson. When she told him she wanted to teach the boys altruism, he suggested they join Adopt a Block.

Among the 106 volunteers on the sunny streets Saturday morning was Erin Hudson of Frankford, Del., a student at Salisbury Christian School.

When she received an e-mail from the leader of her school’s National Honor Society about the event, she and her mother got involved.

“It makes me feel really good,” she said.

Her friend and classmate, Elizabeth Bounds, praised the program.

“I think it’s wonderful. I helped pack the boxes this morning,” she said.

“It’s really good that people have a heart.”

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