Volunteers step up to help with Family Mission’s Thanksgiving

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple Jim Burgess of Warren, left, scoops up dressing as volunteer Kimara Higgins of Youngstown moves through the food line during the Warren Family Mission Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday.

WARREN — Volunteers from around the community, including some from Hiram College, came together Wednesday to give the Warren Family Mission a hand in preparing 2,166 turkey dinners.

More than 1,300 of the dinners were delivered to local senior citizens and homebound residents for the holiday. Dominic Mararri, director of public relations at the mission, said a total of 2,166 meals were distributed.

Paige Robinson of Warren was among the 40 volunteers helping during the four-hour event, including placing packaged meals into stacks for takeout and delivery.

“I am a resident at Hannah’s House. The Warren Family Mission has helped save my life from addiction, and now I want to do anything I can to help give my time back to them … I am helping to pack today and get these meals out to the cars,” Robinson said.

Caitlin White, director of development at the mission, said 3,000 pounds of turkey were prepared, with all meals delivered to homes or picked up by an estimated 800 people at the mission’s outdoor trailer.

“We could not have done all this if it wasn’t for the help from the volunteers.” White said.

Chris Gilger, executive director of the mission, said 600 turkeys were donated.

Inside the mission, a large assembly line had people placing various food items into takeout containers.

Jess Lovejoy, volunteer coordinator, said while some groups and organizations helped, many volunteers are residents who wanted to make sure others had a Thanksgiving meal.

“We asked for volunteers and many people called and stepped up to help. We have many elderly people who do not have anyone to be with at the holidays so they appreciate a meal being dropped off. We knock on their door and give them a meal and leave,” Lovejoy said.


Girard resident Ron Koszela picked up meals for a local veteran who is shut in, plus another elderly neighbor.

“Neither of them can get here, and we wanted to help them for the holidays,” he said.

Andrew Pemberton of Garrettsville said as an Eagle Scout, he enjoys doing community service, which he has done for a long time.

“This year has been especially hard for everyone,” Mararri said. “To put food on the table any day has been hard for many families let alone on a holiday with the pandemic. It is hard for many people who can’t all get together for a dinner due to the mandates.”

Mararri said the mission is preparing for the Christmas toy giveaway and needs items for children up to age 18. He said plans are to help 400 families at Christmas. A Christmas meal also is being planned for next month.


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