Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker recently teamed up with the Washington NFL team and an army of volunteers to pass out turkeys and other food items to 2,500 of the county’s poorest residents.
The Washington NFL team’s charitable foundation held their annual Harvest Feast Thanksgiving Project in FedEx Field on Nov. 20. After 15 years, the program has distributed more than 1.2 million pounds of food and other items since it began in 2002.
“I want to thank the [Washington NFL team] for providing a holiday meal to so many in Prince George’s County,” Baker said. “This is not just about having football on Sunday afternoon it is about being part of the community.”
The organizations helping the Washington NFL team donate food include Ryan Homes, Bank of America, the Capital Area Food Bank, Performance Foodservice of America, PepsiCo and Shoppers Food Warehouse and Pharmacy.
“Being in the food business our primary mission is to assist with hunger relief as well as nutrition and wellness support in the communities where we live and serve,” Bob Gleason, president of Shoppers Food and Pharmacy, told the AFRO.
Students at Oxon Hill High School also gave out pounds of food to the needy to Landover, Md. where more than 386,000 pounds of food will be distributed to charity organizations, families and businesses that are part of charitable network.
While Thanksgiving is busy for the SHARE Food Network, based in Landover and the Capital Area Food Bank, these organizations work with churches and non-profit groups all year to provide food and other services to the county’s poor. In addition Catholic Charities, the United Methodist Church and the Crisis Center work with people who are homeless.
Gloria Brown Burnett, director of the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, told the AFRO that the Washington football team’s charitable foundation is part of a network of organizations who play a critical role in the County during the winter months.
“The holidays are especially tough for those without stable housing,” Burnett said. “Many of our homeless residents find holiday support with family members and friends. Thanksgiving meals are served at emergency shelters. In addition to the Harvest Feast Thanksgiving Project with the Washington Redskins, the Department of Social Services partners with the community to implement Holiday Sharing, a program that matches those in our community with a heart to give with those in need. Through these efforts, each year the Department is able to assist over 4,000 families.”
In terms of the homeless, Burnett said that her organization leads the County’s Continuum of Care for Homeless People. The Prince George’s County homeless system consists of several emergency shelters and transitional and permanent housing along with supportive services, such as a “Warm Nights” program, which is a continuous overnight hypothermia shelter program from the first week of November through the middle of April for homeless individuals. The County also provides rapid re-housing support and eviction prevention assistance.
“We have good faith based partners,” Burnett said.” This program is accessed through the County’s homeless hotline (888-731-0999), which is toll-free and answered 24/7/365. All community partners are familiar with the program and are provided with a schedule at the beginning of each Winter season.” Community partners consist of Community Crisis Services and other faith-based entities.
During the winter months shuttle vans are used to pick up and return residents for the “Warm Nights” program at pre-arranged times from three designated locations throughout the county throughout the week.