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Turkey-basket effort shifts into gear

Parishioners at Trinity Episcopal Church have their Thanksgiving routine down, after more than a 25 years as part of the South Central Alliance of Churches’ mission to get turkeys and trimmings into the hands of some of Fort Worth’s most disadvantaged residents.

“It’s something we really like to do,” said Susann Eller, co-leader of Trinity’s Reaching Out ministry group which coordinates the church’s food basket collection project. “Right now, it looks like we’re going to contribute about 120 bags of food, but they [members] have one more Sunday to get it to us.”

The church will also donate $635 in cash to purchase turkeys.

Trinity’s membership is about 400 families. It was one of the founding congregations of South Central Alliance of Churches in 1988, and its own history dates back to 1893. It has been at 3401 Bellaire Drive since 1948.

“It has been a long-term relationship with the Thanksgiving Basket project,” said Sarah Martinez, communications manager for the church. “We rally a lot of folks and get a lot of energy behind it.”

Parishioners are accustomed to preparing early for the Thanksgiving food drive.

“In September and October, there’s already a preliminary buzz about it,” Martinez said. “The Thanksgiving project is very visible. As bags of food come in there in the atrium, and seeing what we can do as a church, that visual reminder helps us understand it and make a true impact on others.”

Trinity members also will be giving Thanksgiving baskets to 15 families from nearby McLean Sixth Grade School. Members also compile Christmas and Easter food baskets for needy families.

Before the baskets in the church atrium are delivered to the Alliance offices Monday, each one receives a special personal touch from the church’s preschool students, Martinez said.

“The 4- and 5-year-olds do handmade cards and put them in the baskets before their holiday lunch in the Parish Hall,” she said. “It’s a good way to get them involved in the spirit of the season.”

South Central Alliance of Churches is a group of nine congregations in the southwestern quarter of the city of Fort Worth. They provide emergency aid to residents of three of the city’s poorest ZIP codes —76104, 76109 and 76110.

Member churches include founding members St. John’s Episcopal Church, University Christian Church, University United Methodist Church, Trinity Episcopal Church and Southside Church of Christ, which houses the Alliance’s offices at 2101 Hemphill St. Other member churches are First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ), First Presbyterian Church, St. Stephen Presbyterian Church and Westside Unitarian Universalist Church.

All of the churches are in Fort Worth.

This year, the Alliance will provide Thanksgiving dinner supplies and turkeys to 310 families who have registered.

“Thanksgiving is a really big push,” said Opel Smith, the Alliance program director. “We’ve been doing this for years now, and it’s our biggest thing that we do.”

The Alliance is a private charity and receives no assistance from other groups, such as United Way or the Tarrant Area Food Bank.

“We assist families in financial crisis situations,” Smith said. The group’s one-time financial assistance can pay rent for clients who have lost a job or are on sick leave, or have an expensive car repair, “to help them over that little hump.”

They also operate a clothes pantry, a food pantry and help with diapers, formula and hygiene products.

“It’s really a crisis outreach,” Smith said. “It’s for immediate help when you don’t have a lot options to turn to.”

Help needed year-round

• The South Central Alliance of Churches is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and all donations are tax-deductible.

• Member congregations contribute money to the alliance’s annual operating budget and its direct aid account that provides clients with emergency rental assistance, utility payment assistance, prescriptions and gasoline.

• Donations of money, clothing, food and hygiene products are accepted all year from members of the Fort Worth community.

• Go to for details and how to donate.

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