The Sun News

How you can help others at Thanksgiving

wmarshall@macon.com

Q&A with Courtney Pettygrove

Residence: Warner Robins

Volunteer: Team leader, Middle Georgia Thanksgiving Drive

Q: You and your husband—and a small team—are undertaking a big project for Thanksgiving. What’s up?

A: We’re going to take Thanksgiving meals to 250 families, to about 700 children and adults.

Q: You’ll take them on Thanksgiving Day?

A: No, we’ll actually be taking cooked meal trays on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Q: How did this come about?

A: My husband and I and people at his practice — our practice members — began working together to give away frozen turkeys to families in need after we opened Renovation Chiropractic in 2014. He’d gotten the idea from his internship in Stockbridge, Ga., at Discover Chiropractic. They’re about the biggest practice in Georgia and the biggest pediatric practice in the southeast and they did something similar. Of course we’re smaller, but we wanted to do something similar here.

Q: How many turkeys did you give at first? And what’s your husband’s name?

A: The first time we served 15 families with frozen turkeys the practice provided, and practice members donated all the fixings. We gave families food for them to cook. We pretty much doubled every year until this year, and we’re taking a really big jump. And, my husband is Dr. John Pettygrove. I’m office manager at Renovation.

Q: So why the jump from dozens to hundreds and hundreds of meals?

A: We created a little leadership team of me, Amber Jackson and Georgette Humphrey-Bronner, who are part of our team at Renovation, and a couple of other people we asked to lend us their wisdom as things started to grow.

Q: But things grew a lot this year.

A: Well, we were meeting and one of our team said let me just go ahead and get this out there: we know there were people who helped others in big ways after Hurricane Irma and cooked meals and handed them out and things. She said if they could help the community like that, why can’t we go ahead and step up our game and prepare meals, a lot more meals, and just go ahead and do this for people. We decided that’s what we’d do. We were inspired by others.

Q: And now you’re trying to inspire others to help, because you need help doing this, right?

A: We do. We need about 150 volunteers. We can use food donations, but we need people to work on teams, too. We need volunteers for sorting and setting up. We need people for food prep and cooking. We need a packing team and we need a team to deliver the meals. And then there’s cleanup, too.

Q: How can people find out more or volunteer to help?

A: Call our office at 478-333-6134.

Q: Do you have volunteers and help outside your office already?

A: We do have some, but are hoping for a lot more, obviously. Some people, businesses and churches are already joining in. The Perfect Pear in Perry on Carrol Street, for instance, and Abundant Grace Church off Watson Boulevard and Apostolics Church in Byron and Christ Chapel Warner Robins are all helping.

Q: How are you picking families to serve meals to?

A: We have some families through the church contacts, but mainly it’s through some of the Title I schools here in Houston County.

Q: So here you are, you have a business and have been helping others in the community, and now you feel you should step up the effort. Why? This has got to be a lot of extra work.

A: As you become part of the community you see areas where you can serve and help others. For us, our heart is to have the heart of Jesus. When we look at what he did, we see he spent time and helped others who were in need. I guess it’s just our desire to do the same. We’re blessed in our business and have a great group of practice members who have wanted to help others. It’s just getting bigger. It’s a challenge, it’s kind of scary, but we’re going to do it and believe others will help. It’s too easy to have a blind eye to others and only see what you want to see in a community. Houston County is very blessed, but there’s real need, too. We shouldn’t ignore neighbors in need.

Q: Why did you pick Thanksgiving?

A: We had experience with Thanksgiving, like I said, and it’s just a wonderful time of year with family. But a lot of families are struggling to pay bills, much less add the stress of fixing a special meal. But we’ve also done other projects through the years.

Q: Such as?

A: This sounds kind of funny, but one we did we called the Undie 500. We put together a lot of hygiene items and underwear — new underwear, of course — and went to a particular neighborhood and gave it away. We moved to Warner Robins to make a positive impact on people’s health, but we want to join with other people to make an impact beyond just physical health. We’re just a group of people — not pros at this — but people trying to be of help. We just need others to help us help others.

Q: Again, how can you be contacted, how can people volunteer, and where can they drop off food?

A: Call 478-333-6134 or the best way is on Facebook search Middle GA Thanksgiving Drive or go right to www.facebook.com/groups/shareloveandturkey. People can drop off food donations at our office at 3035 Watson Blvd., Suite 5. We’re particularly wanting canned green beans, canned corn, instant potatoes, Hawaiian roles and prepared pumpkin pies.

Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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