The Vineyard Committee on Hunger’s annual Family to Family Thanksgiving food distribution took place on Friday, Nov. 17 at the Baptist Parish House in Vineyard Haven. From early morning through late afternoon the spirit of friends helping neighbors filled the hall.

Unloading the truck. — Mark Lovewell

This tradition, now in its 15th year, brings together volunteers from every part of the Island, of every station in life, to provide the ingredients for a healthy meal to Vineyarders who might not otherwise be able to celebrate the holiday.

This year more than 230 families, including 95 elders over 65 and 128 children under 18, were served.

Following the example of girls from the high school hockey team, fifth graders from the Oak Bluffs school arranged more than 12,000 pounds food into neatly packaged canvas tote bags, throwing themselves at the task with cheerful enthusiasm.

By 1:30 p.m. everything was ready to go. After last minute instructions to the volunteers the doors were opened. Later, a volunteer driver delivered nearly 30 “baskets” to clients confined to their homes by medical conditions.

It was a lot of work, but volunteers and clients alike felt the joy of Thanksgiving a week in advance. There will be another holiday food distribution on Dec. 22, again at first Baptist Church Parish House.

The program is made possible by financial support of the Martha’s Vineyard community. Checks in any amount can be made to Family and mailed to VCOH, P.O. Box 4685, Vineyard Haven, 02568.

Betty Burton is president of the Vineyard Committee on Hunger and coordinator of Serving Hands Food Distribution and Family to Family.