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Hospice donates a ton of food

Photo by Donna Campbell/Sara Skinner, a nurse with Gentiva Hospice, (left), and Gentiva Executive Director Erika Newsome help unload some of the 2,673 pounds of food collected in the company’s 12th annual food drive. The food was donated to The Doll’s House in Brookhaven.

Photo by Donna Campbell/Sara Skinner, a nurse with Gentiva Hospice, (left), and Gentiva Executive Director Erika Newsome help unload some of the 2,673 pounds of food collected in the company’s 12th annual food drive. The food was donated to The Doll’s House in Brookhaven.

Gentiva Hospice staff and volunteers unloaded bag after bag filled with groceries Tuesday and covered much of the side porch at The Doll’s House in Brookhaven with the donations.

More than 2,600 pounds of food packed a U-Haul trailer and the trunk of a car. At least $1,100 was collected in cash donations as well, said Gentiva spokesman Debbie Mason.

The Magee-based business, which serves clients in Lincoln County, chose the non-profit as the recipient of donations collected in its 12th annual food drive.

Several drop-off locations were scattered throughout the multi-county area Gentiva serves and people were encouraged to fill grocery bags with non-perishable food items.

The Doll’s House, run by founders Johnnie and Stephanie Turner, who are also executive directors, is dedicated to helping women, to offer assistance with long-term transitional housing and to offer life skills training for women who have fallen on hard times.

The amount collected went beyond Gentiva staff’s expectations. “Lots of area businesses in Brookhaven and the surrounding counties and communities came together to donate to the food drive for The Doll’s House,” Mason said. “We so much appreciate the communities’ efforts in this wonderful cause.”

A dozen women, and one of the women’s young daughter, are residents at this time, Stephanie Turner said.

Some of the food will be used to refill their own pantry. “It’s amazing,” Turner said. “When the pantry gets low, it starts to overflow again.”

Some of the donations will be used for The Doll’s House’s annual Thanksgiving box giveaway. Last year, the Turners were able to provide families with 425 boxes, which Turner estimates fed a few thousand people. Four years ago, they filled only 60 boxes. This year they expect to fill 480.

“This will be a big part of that,” she said.

The food will also be used to fill emergency boxes to meet the needs in the community, “when a family calls and says they don’t have food,” Turner said.

Photo by Donna Campbell/Johnnie and Stephanie Turner, The Doll’s House’s executive directors, stand amid bags and cases of groceries donated to the organization Tuesday by Gentiva Hospice.

Photo by Donna Campbell/Johnnie and Stephanie Turner, The Doll’s House’s executive directors, stand amid bags and cases of groceries donated to the organization Tuesday by Gentiva Hospice.

The clients and the Turners eat breakfast and dinner together, which Johnnie Turner lovingly prepares. For many of the women, family meals are a new experience, Stephanie Turner said.

“They’ve never been in a setting where they eat a family meal together,” she said.

The donations will be a blessing for the non-profit. “The staff of Gentiva has been amazing,” Turner said. “They went out to all they communities they serve. This will help a lot of people. Plus, our ladies here get to see people in the community being the hands and feet of Christ. God is doing an amazing thing right now.”

Turner thanked the Gentiva staff and volunteers who unloaded the donations. “The hands and feet of Christ like you, that makes it possible to do what we do,” she said. “So thank you for what you do.”

The Turners are gearing up for the annual benefit dinner to be held Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. at Lincoln Civic Center.