Fort Mill Times

Turkey call sounded for charity’s holiday giveaway

Volunteer Jana Arbon fills an order as the Fort Mill Care Center gets ready for the holidays at a new location.
Volunteer Jana Arbon fills an order as the Fort Mill Care Center gets ready for the holidays at a new location. Special to The Fort Mill Times

Thanks to donations from the community, the Fort Mill Care Center provides food, financial assistance and essential services for people all through the year, but as the holiday season nears, it has a particular need.

The center, which helped nearly 2,400 people in 2015, needs frozen turkeys and roasting chickens to provide Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to clients who otherwise would go without.

Giving out holiday meals was a longtime tradition for the care center, but the program was on hiatus in 2013 and 2014 while the center operated from a temporary space that lacked storage. One of the benefits of moving to a permanent home at 2760 Old Nation Road near Regent Park is being able to resume the holiday giveaway, said director Carol Higgins.

“We didn’t have a commercial freezer when we moved in here, but we were able to convert the walk-in refrigerator into a freezer,” Higgins said. “It wasn’t cheap, but it was less expensive than buying a freezer and it works great.”

After purchasing last summer the former Firehouse Grille restaurant that sat vacant for years, the care center launched a capital campaign to raise money to expand the site and build a storage facility on par with the one at its former building on Banks Street.

Once it’s fully equipped, the care center wants to resume stocking enough produce, meat and dairy product to meet clients’ needs. In the meantime, Higgins said it’s important for clients’ self-esteem to resume the holiday meal program.

“It was depressing the last two years when we couldn’t it because people were asking us about it,” she said.

“That’s not to say people couldn’t get meals at some of the churches and that’s good, but it can be difficult because everyone sits together and everyone knows why they’re there. The difference is, when we provide the meals, they can do it at home the same as everybody else. It is really important.”

Some turkey and chicken donations have already come in and the center makes Thanksgiving packages to give away as fast as clients request them so there’s not a bottleneck the final week before the holiday. As closing time neared Friday, 20 turkey, 24 chicken and four ham dinners had been tallied for the week, Higgins said.

“I suspect the numbers, especially by the third week, will be considerably more than that,” she said.

Higgins said the care center could use at least 100 more turkeys and chickens during the next couple weeks for Thanksgiving and will give away the rest for Christmas. Higgins said that judging by generosity from the community during the years, she has no doubt all Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner requests will be met.

“This is an amazing town,” Higgins said. “It really is.”

Michael Harrison: 803-547-2353, @fortmilltimes

Learn more

The Fort Mill Care Center is at 2760 Old Nation Road, Fort Mill.

Hours: 9 a.m.-noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

While donations of nonperishable food are always accepted, the center needs 10- to 12-pound frozen turkeys and frozen roasting chickens in the 5-pound range. Hams are also accepted.

The center is more than halfway to it’s $400,000 capital campaign goal. Monetary donations in any amount is always appreciated.

For information, call 803-547-7620 or visit