FAIRFIELD, Ohio — Millions of children don't know where their next meal could come from each day, even in the Tri-State. During a holiday season that focuses on feasting, the Christ Tabernacle Apostolic Church and Fairfield East staff came together to provide a Thanksgiving meal for families who can't afford one.
"It's for the community," said Kelsey Harding, with the Christ Tabernacle Apostolic Church. "It's to see a smile on mom or dads face. To be able to provide this experience, I think it's something that we often take for granted."
According to No Kid Hungry, a national campaign to raise awareness and find solutions to childhood hunger, one in seven children in the United States live with chronic hunger. The organization's data also shows 11 million children live in "food insecure homes" that don't have enough food for each family member to live a healthy life.
Organizers of Sunday afternoon's event said they hoped the event could provide a proper Thanksgiving meal for families, alleviate some of the stress that can come with the holiday season, and spread a little joy.
"Getting to see everyone have that together time, that family time and enjoy a meal and some laughter and fun and taking away from the stress of their everyday life," said Paige Gillespie, principal of Fairfield East Elementary School.
More than 100 people gathered at the school to share the free Thanksgiving dinner, and take home a bag of groceries to help with their food needs to come.
"Just the fact that there's people out there that would care about and try to make sure other families at the school get a Thanksgiving meal together is really wonderful," said Crystal Schlottman, who enjoyed the dinner alongside her two children. She said she's thankful for the opportunity to participate in the event.
The school said families who rely on free school meals to stay well-fed can struggle during school vacations at the holidays. The church provides free Thanksgiving meals each year, and chose to partner with Fairfield East Elementary School this year to help ensure children going to the school could enjoy Thanksgiving.