This week, I (Anthony Crosby) have decided not to highlight a local business, per se, instead, we will focus on an outreach that has blessed many members of our community over the past three years. Today, we’re putting the spotlight on Thanksgiving Dinner for the Kids. Thanksgiving Dinner for the kids aims to provide families in need with the proper ingredients to prepare a homemade Thanksgiving dinner and instill holiday traditions within their homes. You would think a committee of people would run a mission like this; however, it’s all accomplished by a couple of women, Stacy Medina and her operational partner, Tabitha Stanley. With the assistance of their families, Stacey and Tabitha do it all to make sure dozens of Elko area children, from Carlin to Wendover, have something to eat on Turkey Day. They hand out the flyers, go to all the food drop off locations, unload the donations, work with Communities in Schools to distribute the meal items, answers the phones, etc. Moreover, they do it all for the kids!
Thank you for joining us this week, Stacy, and thank you for all the hard work you and Tabitha are putting in! As the official founder of Thanksgiving Dinner of the Kids, please take us on the journey of how this whole cause got started!
“I was a teenaged mom; I had my daughter when I was a junior in high school. So, I understand the struggle. I, at that time, needed the same help I try to provide for others and was embarrassed to ask for it.
“I was born and raised in Southern California. After I graduated, I stayed around there for a while before moving to Northern California and got married. We moved to Tucson, Arizona, got divorced, and then I met my soul mate; since the night I met him, we haven’t been apart, and it’s been twenty-one years! He was working in mining in Arizona, but they shut down, so we decided to get out of mining and move to Las Vegas. We struggled for years and years there before his dad told us to come up here (Elko) so he could get back into mining. After less than a year of being here, I started working at Good Time Charlie’s and eventually became the manager; I worked there for six years. Unfortunately, we were drunks., and I wasn’t leading a good path. I had a nervous breakdown, quit my job and for a year I just did nothing. I was depressed and suicidal. I don’t remember doing it, but I drove to the hospital and checked myself in; it did some good. I tried to go back to work, eventually, but I have a lot of health issues.
“I was on Facebook one day and saw that one of the bars wanted to put together five Thanksgiving meals to give out to families. I thought about the fact that five wasn’t very many; I could do that! So, I got on my page and told my friends I wanted to try something; I wanted to put dinners together for people. Between my friends and I, we put together enough meals for thirty-five families! My partner, Tabitha, who helped me put some of it together, suggested that the next year we should create a Facebook page for what we were doing.
“The next year, we made the page, and I had a goal of giving out one hundred meals; we ended up doing one hundred and ten! This year, we have really gotten out there, we have ten food drop off locations, more people are hearing about us, and we’re looking to provide meals for over one hundred and fifty families! This is important because not many people around here are doing very much for the Thanksgiving season (regarding outreach); a lot of it is centered around Christmas. Those who have tried have told me it just hasn’t worked out for them, but it’s because people may be embarrassed to come down and admit they need help; I was in that position. I was a single teenaged mom who even lived in her car for two months, so I know! I tell people that I don’t want to know who the families are; if they want to come up and thank me themselves, that’s fine. I just want to get them the meals.”
You’ve accomplished so much in just a few years, Stacy! What is next for you and Thanksgiving Dinner for the Kids; what does your life look like on November 23rd?
“Once Thanksgiving is over, I’ll take all the extra food that was donated down to South Side school, so they can give the kids groceries on the weekend, so they don’t go hungry. Bonanza Produce gives us all their day-old bread to give out, so the families can make turkey sandwiches for the rest of the week. It’s great if we can feed them more than on just one day; everybody loves leftover turkeys! Next year, I’m going to look to find four more helpers who also have a passion for this; I’m getting too old, and this can grow to become too much for just me. We’re not a ministry or anything like that; this is all on us two! My husband has to work a little overtime to pay for the extra gas we use during this time, but he loves this too; he knows this makes me happy, and this is what he wants. It’s worth it!”
You have a lot of passion for this work, Stacy, because you can relate with a lot to the families who are on the other side of these meal donations. We know a lot of other people appreciate Thanksgiving Dinner for the Kids, but what does all of this truly mean to you?
“An older couple from Carlin, who lives on social security and barely have any money, came all the way in town to donate to us at Bonanza Produce by putting money in our jar. Elko has put my faith back in humanity! The people here are really giving and wonderful. Around this time of year, especially when I’m not with my grand-babies, I can get depressed. This keeps my mind occupied; if I don’t have anything to do, I’ll want to lay in bed. This is the only thing keeping me healthy, and I want this to go on forever! I want Thanksgiving Dinner for the Kids to become a tradition in Elko just like an event such as the Snowflake Festival! That’s my goal; this community is too good not to do this. I’m not looking to turn this into a non-profit organization or anything like that. I want people to get involved with this because we love doing this and it comes from the heart.”
If you’d like to contact Stacy and Tabitha to help with donations this year, you can connect with them on their Facebook page HERE
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See you around, Elko!