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Local church gives back for the Thanksgiving holiday

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. --- A local church gave back to the community for the Thanksgiving Holiday on Sunday.

About fifty people walked away with Thanksgiving food baskets from Benton Harbor’s new Wide Awake United Church of Christ. Each bag had fresh fruit and vegetables in them and each person was given a turkey.

All of the food was donated by local organizations, that the senior pastor of the church said none of it could’ve been done without them.

Oliver Varnadoe, the church’s senior pastor, said the main reason they’re doing this is because of what he calls a food desert in Benton Harbor.

“It has to be a struggle for them,” Varnadoe said.

The closest Aldi, Meijer, or Walmart is more than three miles from the church, near the homes of many of the people who took home baskets today.

Some people said they cannot travel to those stores because they don’t have cars, while others said they have disabilities that makes them unable to get there.

Orlandis Cage, who took home a Thanksgiving food basket, said healthy food is not an option for him most of the time. He said the only stores around his home are liquor stores, the Dollar Store, and various convenience stations.

Varnadoe said these options are very frustrating.

“It’d be really nice to get a grocery store that anchored this downtown redevelopment program that they put together,” he said.

But, until then, he said he’ll keep this event going.

“Well, when we put it on Facebook and we put it out advertising the first annual event,” Varnadoe said. “The first annual giveaway so if God continues to bless us we’ll continue to bless God’s people.”

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