ENID, Okla. — Nonprofit organizations in Enid and the surrounding area work year-round to ensure members of the community receive the help they need, and that is especially true around the holiday season.
With Thanksgiving upon us, the volunteers of local nonprofits have been hard at work making sure those they aid have everything they need.
Dan Schiedel, executive director and CEO of United Way of Northwest Oklahoma, said this is an important time of the year for the efforts of serving the community. Last Friday was the annual Day of Kindness in which partner agencies of United Way received help in the form of donations and volunteer efforts from those in the community.
United Way also is in the latter stages of its fundraising campaign to raise $850,000, which it hopes to have raised by the end of December. Schiedel said this time of the year is especially important, but said those who step up in the community around the holidays are appreciated.
“It really comes back to when you think about Thanksgiving and how we can gather in unity. We always talk about ‘Live United with United Way,’ and we really truly believe in that mission,” Schiedel said. “And it’s really invigorating and refreshing when we see all the people come together really in celebration of a common cause or common purpose.
"We’re just really happy for the people in the community who have the heart of Thanksgiving to actually reach out to folks. When we talk about Thanksgiving and the Day of Kindness, and everything from the meals that we all share, it really kind of prepares everyone’s heart for gratitude. Basically by giving that thanks, we are able to extend ourselves and give to others who are less fortunate.”
All of the funds raised by United Way during its annual campaign go toward helping set budgets for partner agencies for the coming year. Schiedel said this is a time of the year that people need a little extra help.
“All of the funds that we raise to go to support all of our nonprofits and especially our nonprofit agencies, really this is the time of the year a lot of people need that extra help,” Schiedel said. “Helping our partner agencies to be able to do what they do to serve others in our community is very important. We’re about right at the end of our campaign to try to raise $850,000, and we still have a ways to go, so we’re really counting on our community businesses and organizations to help us reach that goal because it truly makes a big difference in the amount of money that we can reinvest back into the community.”
Lydia Kelley, executive director of Loaves & Fishes of Northwest Oklahoma, said the organization doesn’t do anything additional for Thanksgiving and is closed Thursday, but that people who need extra food are able to get it.
“We just want to make sure that people who need food and want to bring their families together have access to it,” Kelley said.
Kelley said there were some donations brought to Loaves & Fishes during Day of Kindness, such as turkeys, that were added to the shelves before the holiday. She said the pantry has never run out of food, and this is a time of year they can prepare for extra demand.
“We know we’re going to be busy. We planned in advance to be busy, and we just want to serve as many people as we possibly can,” Kelley said. “And that has to do a lot with the amount of volunteers we have available. We’ve never run out of food and we know to be well prepared. We just know there’s a high need this time of year ... kids are out of school and stuff like that, so there’s just a lot of factors that go into it and we’re just going to do what we can do to serve as many people as we possibly can.”
Rhonda Stevison, chief operating officer at Enid Street Outreach Services, said they are encouraging people they work with to attend some of the free community meals taking place Thursday. She said SOS is able to supply people with what they need during this time of the year.
“We are trying to make sure everyone is warm and safe and has everything that they need,” Stevison said. “And we’re thankful that we have a lot of the supplies that they need.”
Stevison said they will be helping with the meals on Thanksgiving Day and, and said the community meals go a long way toward making people feel at home.
“It lets them feel like they are part of a family,” Stevison said. “They get to eat with others and conversate with others. I think it just gives them a family feeling, because a lot of our people who are unsheltered do not know where their families are anymore.”
Candace Solorio, of RSVP, said they are working with First Baptist Church to deliver meals to people who are home-bound on Thanksgiving Day. She said they also are working to make sure senior citizens don’t feel alone during the holidays.
“Our goal is just to help them in their homes,” Solorio said. “A lot of times, this time of year can be very lonely for them. And as the prices of everything have gone up, their income has stayed the same, so we do see a lot more struggles, which do make the holidays even harder. Sometimes, even if they do have family, it’s hard to get to do anything with them because of financial restraints.”
Solorio said this time of the year, it is even more important to help senior citizens in the community.
“Absolutely, it makes it even harder,” Solorio said. “Definitely around the holidays it can be hard ... some of them have lost spouses, and are going through the first holiday alone. When you go through the first one alone, it’s devastating.”
Deacon Val Ross said he expects more people to attend the community meal at Our Daily Bread this year.
“This year I think will be a little different because of our economy and the way it is with food prices being so much higher,” Ross said. “I think we’ll probably expect a greater turnout than we did last year. Last year we served around 840 meals and I suspect we’ll be well over that this year.”
Ross said it is important that Our Daily Bread and other organizations lreach out to those who are need.
“Especially around the Thanksgiving holiday, there are so many that are in need. Especially with a high food insecurity rate here in Garfield County, so it’s important that we do this every day, but especially around the holidays,” Ross said.
Capt. David Brittle, of Salvation Army, said people who received food boxes were given a turkey in the food boxes distributed.
“For Thanksgiving this year, as we do every year, we add a turkey to the food boxes we put together,” Brittle said. “So every family who has received food from us in November has been able to receive a turkey. On top of that, we’re doing our lunch at 6 p.m. for free for all who show up at our shelter.”