Since opening its doors in 2002, Sparrow’s Nest has served as a lifeline for those in need. As a branch within the FaithWorks’ umbrella of services, the food pantry offers nonperishable items (along with some fresh food selections) as well as hygiene products to those who’ve hit on hard times.

Certainly, those have been plentiful of late. The pandemic has compounded the pressure on those who already faced a daily struggle.

Sabra Slade, executive director of the pantry, says that has caused more and more new faces turn up in recent months.

“I would say we’ve really seen an uptick since the kids went back to school. A lot of our families have been directly affected by COVID. A lot of family members and individuals have been really sick,” she said. “There’s been a lot of job loss, and people have been having a hard time getting back into employment, especially when the schools have had to shutdown.”

Sparrow’s Nest offers families a chance to come in for food once every 30 days. They also step in to provide assistance to those who need a hand with covering utility bills. Regardless of type of need a person has, Slade says, Sparrow’s Nest tries to help.

That is especially true during the holiday season.

It may seem a trivial thing, but sitting down to a full table goes a long way toward bringing dignity and merriment to households. So during these special times of year, Slade says Sparrow’s Nest works hard to help create that magic.

“We try to do something special for Thanksgiving and Christmas … just a little extra, so we try to have turkeys for families to pick up,” she said. “We also do hams at Christmas.”

In the past, the nonprofit kept a list of people who were scheduled to pick up one of the turkeys, this year however, they’re going to open it up to anyone who wants one. That, Slade says, will begin with Thanksgiving.

“My goal is to have a turkey for anyone who comes for their food this month … they’ll have an option to get a turkey,” she said.

“We will also have bags filled with the traditional fixins’ … stuffing, green beans, yams, all of those things.”

While they have a steady stream of support from their volunteers and local churches, Slade hopes that the broader community will take on the charge by donating a turkey or bag of food for these families.

“We’re working with some grocery stores and America’s Second Harvest too, but we’re hoping to get some extra donations from the community,” she said.

“We’d also love it if we could get some donations of pumpkin and pecan pies.”

Sparrow’s Nest is currently accepting those donations and will continue up until the week before the holiday.

“College Place United Methodist has offered their large walk-in freezer for us to store the turkeys in,” Slade said.

“We accept donations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.” Monday to Thursday.”

Thanksgiving donations will be received until Nov. 18. Gifts of turkeys and hams will be taken until Dec. 20 at the pantry, 2911 Altama Ave., Brunswick.

“We’ll do something similar for Christmas and any turkeys that come in late we can just roll over to Christmas,” she said.

For Slade, thinking of local families sitting down to a sparse table is simply heartbreaking.

“Thanksgiving is a time for fellowship with your friends and family. So many people have been impacted by this pandemic in a way that won’t allow them to have a Thanksgiving meal,” she said. “These are our friends and our neighbors who’ve just hit on hard times, a job loss or an illness. It could happen to anyone of us or anyone in our family.”

She hopes that the community will step-in, as it always has, to answer the call.

“This community is incredible. Throughout the entire pandemic, they’ve been so generous. We’ve always had food to give and when our shelves were bare, and we asked for help they filled them up,” she said.

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