Andrew Dys

Bird flu, high turkey prices a ‘crisis’ for Rock Hill Thanksgiving charity

Culinary arts students at the Applied Technology Center in Rock Hill cook turkeys for the Christians Feed the Hungry ministries Thanksgiving meals last year. This year, bird flu and high turkey prices have combined to create a crisis for the ministry
Culinary arts students at the Applied Technology Center in Rock Hill cook turkeys for the Christians Feed the Hungry ministries Thanksgiving meals last year. This year, bird flu and high turkey prices have combined to create a crisis for the ministry aburriss@heraldonline.com

Bird flu has one Rock Hill doctor of divinity feeling sick as a dog.

The symptoms are simple: The high price of turkeys as Thanksgiving nears – jacked up by a bout of bird flu – coupled with a steep drop in donations has Christians Feed The Hungry ministries with a prognosis that no vaccine can cure.

“We are in a crisis right now,” said the Rev. Ronal King, who for 43 years has run the ministry, which has prepared and served thousands of Thanksgiving meals to York County’s poorest. “We have had years where we had thousands of turkeys and fed almost 10,000 meals.

“Right now, we got 10 turkeys.”

Enough to feed a good bunch of people, but nothing like what the ministry has done each year for so long. A small army of volunteers annually prepares and delivers the meals to the elderly, singles, those without family or hope or money.

As if the turkey crisis weren’t bad enough, the donated cooker the ministry uses needs repairs. And the cooking class at a Rock Hill technical school that has helped with preparation before can’t help this year, King said.

“It is desperate,” he said.

Rev. Ronal King's Feed The Hungry needs thousands of extra dollars soon to fulfill its annual mission of giving Thanksgiving meals to the needy, the homeless and the elderly.

Longtime volunteers Don and Donna Howell, who have spent years working with the ministry, said that with two weeks left until Thanksgiving, the tradition of hundreds of people helping out thousands is in real danger. The program also gives food to police and other groups, who give it away to the needy they see every day.

The people who are served are the most under-served the rest of the year, Don Howell said – the poor, the homeless, the elderly and the alone. Thousands of people who generally are invisible, without transportation, vulnerable.

“Our service is different than just about any other because we take it to the people themselves,” he said.

King refuses to give up. A few times over the years, the holiday tradition has faced stiff tests. The community always finds a way, he said, because Rock Hill and York County cares like no other place.

But this year it is not a depression or recession or economic collapse.

“Bird flu,” King said. “The devil – he comes any way he can sneak in.”

Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065

Want to help?

Call Christians Feed the Hungry ministries at 803-417-3881.

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