Food baskets distributed

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, November 25, 2009

FRANKLIN—When O’velton D. Malone celebrates Thanksgiving, his focus is on the giving.

Of course, he gets plenty of thanks for it.

The Isle of Wight native organized a drive to give 100 Thanksgiving food baskets to families in the area.

“We had an overwhelming response,” he said Monday as volunteers handed turkeys and bags of food to people coming to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center on Oak Street. “The need was there for more.”

Malone’s LEVOC (Life Engaged through Vision Outcomes and Character) Family Services handed out 100 Thanksgiving food baskets with help from several volunteers. The organization, which provides community mental health services such as counseling, life skills development, behavior management and crisis intervention, opened in February.

“This year we’re going to go through this 100 no problem,” Malone said about the baskets, which were laid out in neat rows at the MLK Center. “I’d say we could give away 200.”

In fact, an hour into the distribution, volunteers were dispatched to a grocery store to buy extras when more people asked for help.

“It was worth it. Anything to help the community,” said Ardell Keys, who, along with Brian Barnes, went to Wal-Mart to buy 30 more turkeys to give away.

Another volunteer helped Willie M. Lawrence get her turkey to her car.

“It’s going to help me out a lot,” the Isle of Wight woman said. “I have my grandchildren coming over. I’m so thankful.”

With help from the Department of Social Services, Redevelopment and Housing Authority, as well as local churches, LEVOC found plenty of people in need to sign up for food baskets, which included turkeys, and Thanksgiving fixings such as stuffing, macaroni and cheese and vegetables.

“We gave extra food to those families with kids,” Malone said, adding that he was thankful for the use of the MLK Center for distribution.

“They provide help and volunteers,” he said. “They’ve been very supportive of everything we’ve done in this area.”