October 21, 2014

Elyria
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Neighborhood Alliance gives turkeys to families in need

LORAIN — Linda Henriquez never could find the right words when it came to telling her kids there wasn’t going to be a Thanksgiving dinner.

John Oliverio gives a turkey to Anna Mercado at the Neighborhood Alliance Child Enrichment Center in Lorain on Monday. At right, holding pies, is Connie Osborn. (CT photo by Tom Mahl.)

“I would tell them, ‘Just don’t worry about it. Everything will be all right.’ Then it might be a week and a half later that we’d have one,” said the single mother of three. “I remember one time I tried to fool them by roasting a big chicken.”

There won’t be any fooling this year, not after Henriquez and 44 other families received turkeys, stuffing, pies and other traditional fare Monday from the Neighborhood Alliance as part of the organization’s annual Thanksgiving drive.

Sixty-four turkeys were donated by 1-888-OhioComp, a worker’s compensation management company, to the Neighborhood Alliance and 44 of them were distributed to the families whose children attend the Child Enrichment Centers in Elyria and Lorain on Monday. The remaining 20 turkeys will be given to the Haven Center homeless shelter in Lorain.

Bags of Thanksgiving side dishes were donated by the family of an 8-year-old girl who sold trinkets over the summer to raise money to purchase the food items and who wished to remain anonymous, according to Neighborhood Alliance President Connie Osborn.

“It’s wonderful that we can be so impactful,” Osborn said. “Many of these families are living paycheck to paycheck and they really have to choose where every dollar is going. These parents truly have to choose whether to have a Thanksgiving dinner or ‘am I going to pull together Hamburger Helper.’ ”

Osborn estimated that the number of Thanksgiving meals distributed by Neighborhood Alliance has increased about 20 percent over the last two years. Anna Mercado, who also received a turkey from Neighborhood Alliance last year, picked up her meal Monday with son, Antonio, 6.

Mercado said her family of seven wouldn’t be able to eat a Thanksgiving meal if it wasn’t for the Neighborhood Alliance.

“It means a lot to us,” she said. “It means everything.”

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7155 or awright@chroniclet.com.