NAPLES — Southwest Florida charities are operating at full throttle in distributing bags of food and turkeys, but they still can accept nonperishable items to keep pace with need among disadvantaged families.
"We are pretty good on turkeys, but we are needing the canned foods," said Kerri Sparks, spokeswoman for the St. Matthew's House homeless and food pantry organization in East Naples.
Items needed are canned corn, green beans, yams and cranberry, along with boxes of mashed potatoes and stuffing. Rice and beans also are welcome to provide a variety in food bags to needy families that have signed up in advance for assistance.
Food donations can be dropped off at St. Matthew's House shelter at 2001 Airport-Pulling Road in East Naples. St. Matthew's conducted its food distribution Monday in the parking lot of Home Depot at Airport-Pulling Road and Davis Boulevard with a Sweetbay refrigerated truck on loan for the holiday month.
Sparks said 1,200 turkeys have been donated for distribution and for the Thanksgiving Day meal that will be served at noon Thursday for 400 to 500 people expected.
"We will go through them," she said, adding that the food pantry is facing increased demand. "The numbers in the food pantry have just been crazy. The pantry used to give out about 35 bags of food a day and now we are giving out (10 more) a day."
St. Vincent de Paul Society still can use turkeys and other food donations for the holidays, said Carolyn Henry, director of the East Naples charity. Nonperishable donations can be accepted at St. Vincent's thrift store location at 3196 Davis Blvd.
"They will go out the door like hotcakes," Henry said. "All turkeys we receive now will be given out this week. We will probably give out 100 turkeys with bags of food, that is in addition to the regular food distribution."
The Salvation Army had 300 people in Naples and 300 people in Immokalee registered to receive a box of nonperishable food items and a $10 gift card to buy meat for the Thanksgiving Day meal, said Maria Ramos, the business manager.
The charity still can accept canned and dry foods but turkeys aren't needed because the charity has no freezer. Nonperishable donations can be dropped off at 2100 Trade Center Way but the location will be closed Thursday and Friday this week.
"There will always be families in need," she said.
The Harry Chapin Food Bank, which serves needy people in Collier, Lee, Hendry, Glades and Charlotte counties, has distributed 11,500 turkeys so far and that probably will reach 12,000 turkeys by later in the week, said Al Brislain, president and chief executive officer.
"It's in the neighborhood of last year and actually a little bit less than last year," he said. "The big challenge is all the fixings. We're still looking for donations for Christmas."