A local YouTuber’s organization has joined several outreach efforts in the Greenville-area to help ensure that no one goes without a Thanksgiving meal this year.
Beast Philanthropy, an outreach started by internet personality Mr. Beast, donated $35,000 to fill 500 boxes with 10-pound chickens, 8-pound hams, a dozen eggs, cornbread, string beans, yams, potatoes, butter and more.
The boxes were distributed to people in a line of cars on Albemarle Avenue in Greenville on Monday. Boxes for hundreds more will be shared in Grimesland today and Robersonville on Wednesday.
Mr. Beast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, did not attend the event, but his friend Darren Margolias was there.
“Jimmy says that his two most important life goals are to feed the hungry and house the homeless and this is our first step in that direction, to bring that dream to fruition,” Margolias said.
The distributions, which are carried out by Greenville-based Churches Outreach Network and partner organizations, are among several efforts to meet needs multiplied by the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers said.
Mount Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Winterville and First Born Community Development Center in Grimesland served hundreds of families over the weekend at their annual events, and an effort by volunteers at East Carolina University reached out last week.
Student volunteers with Campus Kitchen at ECU and staff from the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement served meals for their community partners as part of the annual Turkeypalooza.
Thanks to a record number of campus sponsors, the effort was able to provide 35 turkeys and complete meal boxes for clients at Operation Sunshine and Little Willie Center on Wednesday.
“Despite what 2020 has offered, it is great to see ECU faculty, staff and students demonstrate ECU’s motto servire — to serve,” said Lauren Howard, assistant director of CLCE and advisor for CKECU.
Monday’s event, a drive-through-only affair due to the pandemic, had families packed into cars the rounded several blocks surrounding Albemarle Avenue.
Churches Outreach director The Rev. Rodney Coles said those who did not have vehicles were told to ask a neighbor or friend for a ride. In vehicles where there were multiple families, each family got a box, he said.
“This could last for a Thanksgiving meal; there’s enough here,” Coles said.
Because of the line, the event started 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Volunteers placed items in vehicles’ trunks or the back seats in a parking lot that was set up like an assembly line.
“Traffic’s getting heavy; we’re out here, why stop?” Coles asked.
He said that the pandemic has caused more families than usual to seek assistance.
“We see more need this year, we do,” Coles said.
St. John Missionary Baptist Church, New Dimension Church, Lutheran Services Carolinas, Children of God and Christ Church and First Presbyterian Church also are helping with the effort, Coles said.
Margolias said the economic toll of COVID-19 has hit a lot of people really hard.
“The conversations that I had with the Food Bank network a few months ago said the margins were up 50 percent over where it was last year, so it’s the right time for us to get into it and start helping these people,” he said.
Tina Brown, mayor of Robersonville and a board member of Churches Outreach Network, said she got to the site at 7:30 a.m. and there already was a line.
“Our organization is about giving back to the community, so we wanted to be a blessing to the community here in Greenville and Pitt County — although it’s not for just Pitt County, it’s for all people,” Brown said. “We just wanted to bless the community and help.”