Amanda Graves has lived in Jackson for about six months, but she had no problem trying to meet needs this week and connecting those in Jackson without shelter and a regular supply of food to both resources.
On Friday evening, she was in the kitchen at Salvation Army on Allen Street in Jackson coordinating food production to deliver to members of the local homeless population who were being housed in hotels.
Salvation Army Lieutenant Mark Cancia was on hand to help in the coordination.
“Tennessee Homeless Solutions took care of putting people who are houseless under a roof, and we’ve had a group of concerned citizens who care enough to do what they can to help get those people fed,” Cancia said.
On Thursday evening as an arctic blast moved into the area, temperatures dropped into the single digits and even were recorded briefly below 0 degrees Fahrenheit Friday morning.
Different local non-profits like Area Relief Ministries and Regional Inter-Faith Association did their best within their usual realm of effort to get people fed, and Graves and a group of people from Jackson Madison County Relief Volunteers became an outlet through which the food gaps were filled early in the cold snap.
Martha Priddy is the one who spearheaded the formation of the group two years ago to meet feed insecurities early in the COVID-19 pandemic, and Graves joined in the effort soon after she moved to the Hub City.
But Thursday’s efforts were a little more special to her.
“Nearly all of my family members’ birthdays are in December, and my mother’s birthday is in December,” Graves said. “I’ve a son whose birthday would’ve been today (Dec. 23) and another whose birthday would’ve been Dec. 15.
“I’ve got two more kids who are still here with me that are working right now but will be here helping when they get off work.”
Graves said December is a month to celebrate the birth of Jesus by doing what Jesus calls us to do – be a light and help those who can’t help themselves and then in January, those in her family who had birthdays get celebrated.
“Last night late, we were knocking on doors at hotels letting them know food was available at the hotel lobby for them,” Graves said. “And you never know what is going on with someone who doesn’t have a home.
“If there’s an addiction they’re dealing with, they need to eat to keep their body satisfied as much as possible because when you’re hungry, any other craving you have – an addiction – just becomes that much more serious. So keeping these people fed in a way helps their addiction situation for the short term.”
As Priddy and other volunteers were getting food to people early in the evening, Graves and a few other volunteers were in the kitchen preparing more food. Also while the cooking was going on, Graves and Cancia were planning a weekend of meals for the people.
“This will get us through the cold snap hopefully,” Cancia said when asked why they were planning through Monday. “So getting on the markerboard like this helps us evaluate our needs and what we have on hand and see what we need to fill any gaps the people have to get them through Christmas and Monday.”
Brandon Shields, email@example.com