CY residents rally to support the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive

By Suzzane Striker

I’m a proud resident of CY and member of the CYCA. Anyone who talks to me for more than two minutes knows that. They may not remember my name or much else about me, but they remember I live in CY. Today I’m positively giddy with pride and joy; today once again we have come together as a community to help our less fortunate neighbors during our annual Thanksgiving Food Drive to benefit First Congo’s Loaves and Fishes food pantry. A thousand thanks to the residents of CY for their generosity.

For the pantry, the food drive is welcome help. Loaves and Fishes offers light snacks and food and clothing assistance every Tuesday and Thursday from 2-3pm. The church also opens their doors for a ministry called Food For Families once a month where registered families can come and ‘shop’ for groceries. These ministries are not a part of the church’s operations budget. They rely entirely on the generosity and donations of church members and the community. Collectively we make certain no one in our neighborhood or close by goes hungry.

We’re a busy bunch here in CY. There is always something going on in the neighborhood or around Midtown, and the call for volunteers is constant. So I owe a special round of thanks to all the volunteers listed below who made the food drive possible:

Sydney Ashby ● Cheryl Bledsoe ● Summer Burt ● Nick Canterucci ● Marcia and Lori Cohen ● Barb and Jason Elder ● Faye Gardner ● Edward Greene ● Ashley Hanna ● Kristan Huntley ● June, Justin, Tyler Hurt ● Peter Owen ● Amy Pickle ● Beth Pullian ● Larry Rutledge ● John Silberman ● Shelley Thomas ● Carmen and Joey Weaver ● Asuka and Vincent Yow

I know my volunteers participated because they believe in and want to be supportive of the pantry and our neighbors in need. I take their response to my call for help very personally, and I’m always very touched by it. Some are repeat volunteers, most of them have full time jobs, families with children, and are involved in multiple community actives, and yet they made time to get out and deliver flyers and/or get up early on a Saturday morning to pick up donations. At least this year we lucked out and finally had nice weather.

Extra special thanks go out to our fearless, energizer bunny CYCA president June Hurt who, aside from helping out in other ways, enlisted the help of her friend Amy (who doesn’t even live in CY) and Nick (who works the night shift and is usually asleep when the drive started) to deliver flyers and help pick up donations. And our Community Director Kristan Huntley helped immensely by printing over 1,000 flyers and helping with pick up.

There are a few people who helped out just because I asked, namely my honey bunny John Silberman who sponsored the printing of 500 flyers, the refreshments, and allowed me to relax and enjoy interacting with people on my jaunts in the neighborhood to deliver flyers without worrying about needing to rush back to work.

There would be no pantry without Rev. Cheryl Cornish, Julia Hicks (Director of Missions), and Rev. Sonia Walker and their volunteers at First Congo who saw a need for the pantry and responded to it even though the church was already responding to so many other social needs in the community. And if it weren’t for Carmen Weaver and See’ Trail Mackey there may not be a CY Thanksgiving Food Drive for me to be involved with. To all of them, especially Carmen Weaver who asked me to help out four years ago, I am eternally grateful. It has enriched my life in more ways than I can adequately express.

This year I did the food drive with my former neighbor and friend Richelle close to and heavy in my heart. Richelle and her husband were members of the working poor and victims of shyster mortgage brokers; they were constantly struggling to keep it all together and provide for their two growing children. There was a time that, if it weren’t for the pantry, Richelle would have been faced with the choice of putting gas in the car so that she and her husband could get to work or feeding her family. Sadly they lost their house, and shortly after they moved, Richelle was diagnosed with Leukemia. Tragically, Richelle lost her gallant and cheerful battle with it a few days after last year’s food drive.

I’ve had people thank me for keeping the food drive going. I’m almost embarrassed to accept their thanks. Although I do this because I care and think it’s important to give back, this is just what we do in CY – we look out for one another, and we take care of each other. I also do it for personal/selfish reasons.

Every year I get out and about in this neighborhood that I love, and I have some magical, whimsical, enchanting, awe inspiring experience with people or even with something I discover on people’s porches or in their yards. And I can hardly wait for next year’s drive.

In the mean time you don’t have to wait for next year’s food drive to contribute to the pantry. Anytime you want to make a contribution, however small, please don’t hesitate to contact me, and I’ll be happy to come pick it up. Also please keep Loaves and Fishes Tuesday and Thursday snacks in mind when you have a party and there are lots of leftovers. They’ll put the extra food to good use to serve lots of people. You can contact Julia Hicks at First Congo at 901-278-6786, ext 3, or me at or 901-276-6450.

Once again a thousand thanks to all the dedicated volunteers and the community for your generosity and support of the Loaves and Fishes food pantry. I wish everyone an especially blessed holiday!


Loaves and Fishes and Food For Families ministries at a glance

Everyone in the neighborhood is familiar with First Congregational Church. It’s a cornerstone of our community. The Loaves and Fishes Closet and Food For Families are among the many ministries housed at 1000 S. Cooper St. Here are the services they provide.

  • Every Tuesday and Thursday from 2-3pm Loaves and Fishes offers a light snack as well as assistance to anyone with food and clothing needs.
  • On the 4th Sunday of each month Food For Families provides groceries for registered households.
  • This year’s December Food For Families will be held on the 3rd Sunday in December, since the 4th Sunday is Christmas Day.

Thanks to the First Congregational members who generously give regularly to this ministry, as well as to CY neighbors who gave in the Thanksgiving Food drive! For more information about these ministries, contact Julie Hicks at or 901-278-6786, ext 3.



Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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