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Stone County group gives hundreds of free holiday meals

A charitable organization called Sharing and Caring spent Christmas Day giving away free meals to community members at the Stone County Fairgrounds in Wiggins.
Published: Dec. 25, 2021 at 5:19 PM CST
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WIGGINS, Miss. (WLOX) - A charitable organization called Sharing and Caring spent Christmas Day giving away free meals to community members at the Stone County Fairgrounds in Wiggins.

For two decades, group members have devoted their time over the holidays to make the day special for families in need, and the pandemic has not gotten in the way of their mission.

“It’ll take a toll on you, but it’s worth it in the end,” co-organizer Geralda McLendon said.

Year after year, they have not missed a beat by providing mass meals of comfort. But due to the pandemic, this year’s meals were prepared in to-go plates and served in a drive-through line.

“Everybody misses the fellowship sitting inside and talking and visiting,” McLendon said. “But if they need the meal, we got it for them, and we are just happy to give that to them.”

The annual event was inspired by Harrison County’s traditional Feed the Needy program.

“Going to Gulfport and seeing how they did it down there, and why can’t we do it up here in Stone County? So, that’s how it got started,” co-organizer Dick O’Neal said.

McLendon and O’Neal say on a typical year, they feed about 1,000 people, but this Christmas, they served about half.

“Since they’re having to come to us, I’m sure it’s harder for a lot of them,” volunteer JoAnn Smith said. “We don’t realize it, but there’s so many families that don’t have food like this on Christmas Day so we enjoy preparing and serving it to them.”

Smith and Cleve Altman have been volunteering for about 10 years. They are two of about 30 lending a hand Saturday.

“We get a joy out of it, and then, I know the people get a good meal,” Altman said.

The meals consisted of turkey, ham, cornbread dressing with cranberry sauce, green beans, yams, a dinner roll and dessert.

Organizers say funds and most of the food were provided by the Wiggins community, and they appreciate all the generous donations.

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