York Police distribute Thanksgiving meals to 50 families in need

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comNovember 20, 2012 

— Thanksgiving for Jessie Long came two days early in a brown bag filled with some of her favorites — canned corn, macaroni and cheese, green beans, fudge brownies, stuffing and a nice, cold turkey.

Long, a 59-year-old diabetic who lives at York’s Pecan Circle apartments, only buys food once a month when she receives her Social Security check. Long admits she’s not fond of shopping for food during the holidays or any other time of year.

“I hate going to the grocery store,” she said. “If I didn't have to eat, I wouldn't buy groceries.”

Thanks to the York Police Department, she won’t have to worry about sending Charles, her friend of 30 years, out to pick up her month’s supply of food.

Fifty needy families in York received free food on Tuesday as part of the police department's second annual Thanksgiving meal drive, an effort Chief of Police Andy Robinson says gives back “to those here in our own community that might be down on their luck.”

Last year, the drive fed 31 families. The goal this Thanksgiving, Robinson said, was to gather more food and target more families without turning anyone away.

"We have a little bit extra this year in case some people come in at the last minute," he said. "We can help up to 60 families this year."

Police officers, city employees, local businesses and corporate sponsors including Walmart and Bi-Lo, all donated to the drive, Robinson said.

The York School District, local ministries and several nonprofit charities submitted names of people in the community needing assistance, Robinson said. Some people signed up after hearing about the drive by word of mouth, or on the department’s Facebook page.

Officers on Tuesday loaded food in their patrol cars and trucks and made their deliveries.

“I love it,” said Pearline Austin, a first-year recipient in the drive who went with a friend to the police department to get her holiday meal.

Austin anticipates feeding at least a dozen family members Thursday, not including the ones that might just show up.

Like Austin, Jessie Long’s expecting a full house, with family traveling to York from Virginia to eat at her sister’s apartment. Last year, her “buddy,” Lt. Dale Edwards, told her about the drive.

Tuesday, after Sgt. Allen Baker spread out her favorites across her kitchen table, she invited him to dinner.

“It’s not about locking people up,” Baker said of his police work. “It’s about helping people. If the need’s there, as a community, we need to try to provide.”

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