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Community Christmas Drive Thru provides food and other items for many in Wiregrass area

The operation of the traditional luncheon may have changed but the effort remains.
Published: Dec. 18, 2020 at 4:47 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - There is an increase in need this year, COVID-19 may have put a halt to large gatherings but some are innovating new ways to continue to give back and help provide for those in need.

The Christmas Drive-Thru Grocery Giveaway was held at RIP Hewes Stadium Friday morning from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The operation of the traditional luncheon may have changed but the effort remains.

Due to COVID-19 the annual Community Christmas Luncheon transformed to drive thru style. No hot meals were given, but bags and boxes of groceries for the holidays were given away for free. Along with heaters and blankets while supplies lasted. Several cars gathered at RIP Hewes Stadium to receive their bags of groceries.

“This year is very different than any other year,” Anita Dawkins Weatherington, organizer, said. “It’s because of the pandemic. We’re having to do, you know, we’re outside, trying to stay safe while trying to serve our community at the same time.”

Providing for some in the community after a tough year.

“This city is a great giving city and this is evidence of that, and we know there’s people in need out there and so this is just one small way we can be a part of that,” Mayor Mark Saliba, City of Dothan Mayor, said.

Seeing an increase in need due to the pandemic, Weatherington said with the changes this year it allows her to expand her efforts.

“We would have never been able to meet the needs of our community if we would have did it inside the gym this year,” Weatherington said. “So, this year it shows me with all the people that are here what greater need they are in, and we’re happy to be able to provide that to the Wiregrass people.”

Usually serving between 1,200 and 2,000 people at the Community Christmas Luncheon, this year they provided for 4,000 bags and have brought in additional food to cover this event.

“It’s exceeded our number, we are out of bags right now, we’re scrambling for boxes to put the food in to give to them,” Weatherington said.

People were able to drive through, pop their trunks while volunteers loaded up items for them.

“As you see, we have more people coming than we do have working,” Weatherington said.

Some waiting in line for an hour or more, but said it was worth it.

“Families, you know, we can’t get together, so everybody needs food in their house, so that’s the blessing,” Laura Teague, who waited one hour, said.

Heaters, blankets, turkeys, ham and other groceries for the holidays were given away while supplies lasted.

“Merry Christmas to everyone in the Wiregrass,” Mayor Saliba said. “This is supposed to be the season of hope and preparation for room in your heart for love and for God and so I just ask that everyone do that.”

Weatherington said this is a joint effort and she thanks everyone who was involved.

Cars were line up over two hours ahead of today’s event.

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