Valley groups providing free Thanksgiving meals to community

It is the 35th year that St. Michael Church held its Turkey Connection, providing Thanksgiving meals to soup kitchens

CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – A Thanksgiving tradition continued in Canfield on Wednesday.

The Turkey Connection provides a Thanksgiving meal for people at soup kitchens in the area. It is the 35th year that St. Michael Church has held the event.

The church collected 123 turkeys and 138 pies, all of which will be donated to three kitchens this year: The Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley, St. Vincent de Paul Society’s kitchen and Skip’s Cafe.

Organizers said while they’ve been doing this for a while, they decided this year to spread the word through social media to help meet the need.

“I said, ‘Turkey Connection goes viral,’ and my son said, ‘Mom, turkey, viral — probably shouldn’t put that together,’ but it has really worked,” said Juanita Sherba, a parishioner of St. Michael.

More than 600 people also gathered for a free Thanksgiving dinner at the Salvation Army in Youngstown on Wednesday. Volunteers, including kids enrolled in after-school programs, helped serve the meals.

Major Elijah Kahn, Mahoning County coordinator for the Salvation Army, said holiday events like this one bring light to the struggles many families feel, especially in the winter.

“A lot of people don’t know that so much need exists in our community, and it’s just so beautiful, so rewarding to see so many in the community to come together and make this possible,” Kahn said.

The Warren Family Mission also held its 18th annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner on Wednesday.

Hundreds of people showed up to enjoy a free meal with their family and friends, or they picked one up to go.

People at the Mission said it took a lot of work to pull it off, but in the end, it was all worth it to see everyone come together and get in the spirit of Thanksgiving.

“In life we don’t sometimes realize what we have and we forget that, and today really sets the stage to be Thanksgiving and to be thankful, and that can turn into ‘thanks living,'” said Dominic Mararri from the Warren Family Mission.

The Mission will serve and deliver more than 2,200 meals.

Thursday, the Austintown Fitch High School Baseball Team will be helped serve meals to those in need at the Rescue Mission in Youngstown.

The Kennedy Catholic Boys’ Basketball Team served hot meals at the Salvation Army on Fisher Hill Street in Sharon. This is the second year that the basketball team has served meals at the Shenango Valley’s Salvation Army.

“We wanted to be able to give back to the community and let our student athletes know how important it is to give and how important it is to value what we have,” said Assistant Coach Justin Magestro.