Three times each year, Mountaire Farms holds packing events to help feed those in the community who otherwise would not have a holiday meal.
“It’s a trilogy. Three times a year, at the most important holidays to give back,” said Roger Marino, Mountaire’s corporate community-relations director, noting specifically the Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holidays. “It’s to give thanks and give back for all the good things the Lord has done for us throughout the year.”
On Dec. 18, dozens of volunteers gathered in Mountaire’s Selbyville warehouse to pack a full Christmas meal, including a Mountaire Farms roaster chicken, stuffing, yams, cranberry sauce, corn, green beans and a dessert, for 2,500 families in need.
“It’s incredible. Everyone is a fine-oiled machine here,” said Garth Troescher, president of Contractors for a Cause, who volunteered at the packing event.
Troescher said he learned of the packing event when Marino recognized him on the WRDE show “It Takes One to Know One.”
“He said he needed help here today, so I sent an email out to our fellow Contractors for a Cause, and there are probably 25, 30 people here because I sent that email out. It was easy; everybody was ready to help,” Troescher said.
Supporting the community is the cornerstone of Contractors for a Cause, Troescher said, and the opportunities to volunteer are abundant.
“I feel there’s enough people in this community who want to help, if they only knew about it,” he said. “Quite often, people want to help but they don’t have the connection. We do this all year long in different ways, so it’s easy… Plus, it’s fun hanging out with friends and meeting new people. We’re very happy for the support of this community.”
Members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 16 out of Bethany Beach also attended the packing event — something they’ve been volunteering at for years.
“Police in general, people going into policing, tend to be people who want to help in the community. It’s sort of born in you,” said Sally Byrne.
“It’s a really great feeling once you leave, because you’re doing something for a lot of people who are in need,” added Tom Maly. “We’re all a part of one big community. Some people in the community need help, and we’re helping to make Christmas a little better for them.”
The FOP Lodge supports the community in a number of ways, including volunteering and providing scholarship opportunities.
“Anything we’re asked to do, like the triathlon in Bethany — anyone who calls and says, ‘We need help,’ we’re there,” added Bryne. “I was told when I moved down here 25 years ago that I would be bored in winter — and I still haven’t done the things I was going to do in the winter because I’ve been busy volunteering with a lot of different things.
“I was raised with parents who were very active in the community. My parents and grandparents were always volunteering and doing things, and I was dragged along from an early age,” she said with a laugh.
The boxes packed on Tuesday will provide a Christmas meal to more than 11,250 members of the local community, going through 34 different food banks.
“This year, when we finish the trilogy, we will have fed over a million people on Delmarva,” said Marino. “It’s incredible. That’s more people than in the state of Delaware. It’s a great feeling but also a sad feeling, to know there are than many people in need of a meal or who wouldn’t have a meal if it wasn’t for this.”
“At the end of the day, it’s great. I’ll sit and have my meal — which will be very similar, with maybe a little extra here and there — at Christmas and I’ll be thinking about the people having these meals.”
Food isn’t the only thing Mountaire hopes to provide to those in need — anyone in search of a job is welcome to visit the Selbyville site for an application.
“Someone called us recently who told us that she and her husband are living out of their car. We said we would absolutely provide them with a meal, but also that there are job opportunities. So, they’re now applying for a job here,” Marino said.
“They lost their jobs in North Carolina and came here to stay with friends and relatives, and that didn’t work out. I also said, ‘Take the meal, take it to a shelter, and have them cook it for you.’ And that’s what they’re going to do. Those are the kinds of stories that come about.”
Marino recalled another success story of a young woman who had left her family in Saint Louis, looking for a better life.
“They were mistreating her… she drove here and then heard about us packing. She came to get a box of food, and I took her across the street for a job application. She got a job — she’s a supervisor today; she’s married, has a baby, a home and an SUV. All of that came about because she happened to find out about this, came here, didn’t know where her next meal was going to come from,” he said.
Looking out, seeing how one can help their neighbors, is paramount when it comes to growing a better community for everyone, said Marino.
“You never know who’s sitting next to you in the same pew at church. You never know in a public building, who that person is, what their problem is and how you might be able to help them,” he said. “In my lifetime, I’ve had people reach out to me, and I’m here because of that.”
By Maria Counts