“It is a blessing” — Community, volunteers brave cold for Port Arthur turkey giveaway

Published 3:00 pm Monday, December 20, 2021

Hundreds of cars lined up around Gilham Circle as community leaders spread Christmas cheer to the tune of 500 turkeys.

Darrell Foreman waited in line nearly an hour for a turkey Monday morning in Port Arthur.

“It is a blessing,” he said of the giveaway. “To have the Southeast Texas Food Bank doing this type of work and coming out here, it is a blessing. It helps. A lot of people are dealing with stuff, but we take it one day at a time.”

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CEO of the Southeast Texas Food Bank Barbara Newhouse said the area needs help.

Cars line up for a turkey give away at Gilham Circle Monday. (Chris Moore/The News)

“There is nothing better and richer than watching and being able to help and feed people,” she said.

“Southeast Texas ranks No. 4 in the nation for food insecurity. It is really important to all of us that we see this happening. Since Thanksgiving, we have done 5,500 turkey distributions. That is because we believe in the mission of ending hunger and feeding hope… On anyone’s worst day, if they can come out and see this, it is a blessing. This is what it is about.”

Olga Reasons helps organize volunteers for the event.

On Monday, she had between 20 and 30 people directing traffic and putting boxes of food into vehicles that drove through.

Temperatures hovered around the mid 40s in the morning, but it did not deter volunteers from working the lines. Reasons said she is grateful for the people who donated their valuable time.

Charles Davis, left, and Jimmy Taylor load a turkey into the back of a car. (Chris Moore/The News)

“The volunteers are very loyal,” Reasons said.

“They know it is for a good cause and they never tell me no. The food bank knows that when they call me, we are going to be here until it is gone. We don’t leave until the last car, and it goes by fast.”

The giveaway started at 10 a.m. with vehicles already lined up around the circle and on side streets. Reasons said the event went on until they ran out of turkeys, which took a couple of hours.

Newhouse said she knows she can always rely on Reasons to come through with volunteers.

“We are all volunteers (of) Ms. Olga in Port Arthur,” Newhouse said. “She has a team that does not break.”

Port Arthur Police Chief Tim Duriso was on hand helping load turkeys into vehicles and Precinct 2 Constable Chris Bates helped direct traffic.