Mesa Church Thanksgiving

In the past, volunteers would gather at a Mesa church to serve Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of kids from group foster homes. The pandemic has changed things.

For the last seven years the Ahwatukee Kiwanis Club has worked with three churches to serve a Thanksgiving dinner to kids who live in group foster homes.

The pandemic has forced them to cancel a festive gathering held a few days before the holiday, but it has not dampened the Kiwanians’ determination to do something special for these kids. They are continuing an event started in 2013 by Andy Pettyjohn and Carolyn Blaney-Arndt.

This year, instead of having the kids brought to dinner, the Kiwanians are partnering with Boys Team Charity Ahwatukee to bring dinner to them at 21 homes.

Ahwatukee Kiwanis member Annlouise Ferguson and Stacy Rasmussen and BTC Chair Karen Snyder are leading the effort to serve the children and teens a proper Thanksgiving dinner.

They already have received help from the Ahwatukee Board of Management, Ahwatukee Foothills Friends and Neighbors, Trader Joe’s locations in Ahwatukee, Tempe and Arizona State University, the Ahwatukee Board of Management, Carrie Chapman of Dream Vacations, Liv Generations Ahwatukee, Nicholas Goode of Edward Jones, Vision Management, the Desert Vista High library staff and Desert Landscaping Professionals.

Now, BTC and the Kiwanis Club need Ahwatukee residents to help get the meals to the kids. They also need donations of cash and holiday table dressings, paper and plastic dinnerware, centerpieces and disposable coolers and cooler bags and ice packs.

The items can be dropped off at Ahwatukee Board of Management, 4700 E. Warner Road. Volunteer drivers can contact Ferguson at annlouise.ferguson@gmail.com.

Ferguson said they would prefer drivers with Arizona security clearance cards because group foster homes’ addresses are  to protect the young residents, many of whom were removed from their biological parents’ homes because of abuse.

But she said that because the deliveries have to be made starting the Saturday before the holiday, or even the holiday itself, time is growing short so she’s willing to talk to volunteer drivers who may not have their card.

The Kiwanians already have recruited 70 volunteers to cook the meals, helped by Trader Joe’s donations to a pantry started by Kiwanian Linda Joachim. Because they are being transported, the packaging has to protect food temperatures – hence the need for coolers.

As it has been for many nonprofits, the Ahwatukee Kiwanis Club took a big hit, losing out on the Spring Fling, a main    fundraiser. But Ferguson and Snyder believe, every kid should have a Thanksgiving.

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