One Man’s generosity leads to years of Thanksgiving meals for area families

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COTTLEVILLE, MO - Trailers full of Thanksgiving food are stored in Cottleville as the non-profit No Hunger Holiday  prepares to distribute enough food to prepare an estimated 15,000 meals for 4,000 area families.  The charitable effort is in its 29th year and is made possible through generous donors and dedicated volunteers.

The non-profit partners with local social service agencies to identify families in need.  The food will be distributed through those agencies on Tuesday.

The program began with one man wanting to help.  Frank Conard said he was inspired by a sermon he heard at his church and wanted to help families in need.  He asked Sts. Joachim & Ann Care Service how many families they helped and wanted to provide them with food for a Thanksgiving meal.  That was 1991.  In the years that have followed donations have grown and additional volunteers have joined the effort.

“You’ve heard the expression one person can’t change it, well one person can,” said Conard.  “You just have to go out there and do it.  Find that need and go out and fill it.  If you lead by example other people will follow,” he said.

No Hunger Holiday now serves families in 7 area counties including the City of St. Louis.  Conard saves letters of appreciation received over the years and recalls an exchange with a volunteer one year.  He said, “I had a young lady come up to me at the event she was working, and she said she was there volunteering because her family got a box from us that made their thanksgiving.”

Doug Helfrich is the vice-president of No Hunger Holiday’s board of directors.  He credits the generosity of businesses for making the effort possible and said volunteers know exactly how to make the operation a success.

“We found the ability with a great group of guys that work together on this,” he said.  “We each have our responsibility and we do our responsibility.”

During the past several years area high schools have donated approximately 10,000 turkeys.  The trailer storing this year’s turkeys is nearly filled.

“It’s another great sign of support from both the high schools and the youth in the community supporting us,” said Kevin Smith, No Hunger Holiday board member, and spokesman.

Smith said it’s been incredible to see how much the operation has grown.  He adds it’s also a reminder of how many families are in need.

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