Mike and Judy Hall of Long Neck have been volunteering for years to pack Mountaire Cares holiday food boxes for the needy.
For Judy, it’s one of the ways she has been giving back in thanks for recovering from a 2012 aneurysm that required her to learn to walk and feed herself again.
“I thought, ‘You know what, I am just going to put myself out there and do as much as I can for other people since God gave me another chance,'” she said.
State Sen. Dave Wilson, R-Lincoln, Milford and Bridgeville, has been volunteering for more than two decades to pack holiday food boxes for Mountaire Farms.
He was inspired by Roger Marino, a friend on the State Fair Board, who mentioned that Mountaire was packing dinner boxes for thousands.
“It brings the community together when you that company is willing to make that sizeable a donation that will feed that many families,” Wilson said.
The staff of the Delmarva Chicken Association closed their office in November to help pack Thanksgiving holiday boxes.
“We’re both organizations that are part of the broader chicken community,” Fisher said. “For us as a nonprofit that helps chicken growers and chicken companies and allied businesses, it’s a way for us to remind ourselves that this is really all about putting food on people’s plates.”
More than 150 volunteers, including school children and members of area civic clubs, churches and nonprofits, will gather again Wednesday, Dec. 21, at Mountaire’s Seaford plant to pack 3,000 Christmas boxes.
“They’re just so many organizations that are part of it,” Wilson said.
Each box is designed to feed a family of four. The Christmas boxes are stuffed with a plump Mountaire roaster chicken, canned corn, green beans, yams, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and brownie mix for dessert.
Wilson said it takes about four hours for the group to pack the boxes.
“You just feel good about being a part of something that does so much for so many,” Wilson said.
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“The need always seems greater during the holidays, and we are blessed to be able to do what we can to help families this time of year,” said J.R. LaPearl, director of Mountaire Cares, the company’s charitable giving program. “What I love about these events is that it brings people together to share love and kindness to one another. That is what Christmas is all about.”
The Mountaire Cares program takes place in both Delaware and North Carolina, where the company has plants, and will feed a total of 36,000.
None of the boxes are available that day to the public. They already are reserved for families, churches and nonprofits and are send to churches and other food distribution programs to be given away.
Sometimes nonprofits will come pick up the boxes they will distribute. At Thanksgiving, Mike Hall said, the boxes are loaded onto pallets and then Mountaire workers stacked those into tractor trailers for delivery.
The Halls, who have been retired for about a decade, got involved with Mountaire through the Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club. Mountaire works with several programs designed to feed the hungry that the Halls also work with.
Mike Hall said Mountaire has the packing system down, with two assembly lines set up in a tent outside the Seaford plant.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Mike said. “It can be cold when you’re doing it, but most of the time you don’t even really pay that much attention to it.”
The work is so steady, “people are breaking out in sweat even though it might be 35 or 40 degrees with the wind blowing,” he said.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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