From Girl Scouts to Realtors, hundreds of people turned out for the annual Saturday-before-Thanksgiving food distribution event hosted by One Generation Away at Liberty Elementary School.

The nonprofit has been holding this pre-holidays push for about 10 years, and this year One Gen Away collaborated with GraceWorks and The Well Outreach to establish three different locations where low-income families could receive Thanksgiving fixings Saturday. The GraceWorks Mobile Food Pantry operated out of Fairview Middle School and The Well distributed at its office in Spring Hill.

“We always get a tremendous number of volunteers at this distribution,” said Chris Whitney, director and co-founder of One Generation Away along with his wife, Elaine Whitney. 

“The holidays are sometimes the hardest time for people, and hopefully with all these people being together, it just kind of gives you a little smile on your face knowing there are people caring about you and showing their love for you. It helps them get a good start on the holidays.”

Whitney pointed out that the concept of the food distribution enabled recipients to receive a turkey and several other food items so they could cook the meal themselves. 

“Some people don’t have a stove so they need someone to cook a meal for them,” he explained. “But I just remember growing up, the smell of the turkey in the house. I just thought it would be really neat if we could find a way to give turkeys away every Saturday before Thanksgiving, so there would be time to thaw the turkey out, cook it and all those things — just so families could have that family time together, enjoy those memories.”

It was a cold and damp morning, but there was obviously an abundance of warm hearts, both among those receiving the food and those who were distributing it.

“We’ve done this several times for our company, and we enjoy coming out and giving back our appreciation to Franklin,” said Holden Parker, one of around a dozen employees participating from the Cool Springs real estate firm Music City Experts. “It’s really eye-opening to see how many people are actually in need. It makes all of us appreciative to know we can help them.”

The Williamson County Association of Realtors had around 150 members show up Saturday. The organization had formed a community outreach committee earlier in the year, and one of its members said food distribution was an ideal outlet.

“It’s a way we can reach out and serve the community other than just selling houses,” said Danny Anderson, who helps oversee WCAR’s committee. “People think that because we’re one of the richest counties in the country that we don’t have needs like this, and we really do. We got the word out and people were very eager to sign up.”

Six Brownies from Girl Scout Troop 601 — second graders at Franklin Elementary School — were doing their part by distributing small watermelons, with direction from troop leaders Nicole Clark and Peggy Kidd.

“Peggy and I wanted to give them exposure to community service,” Clark said. “They are students at a very diverse school, and it’s nice to let them see that our community is as diverse as their school.”

Plenty of families were also participating in the food distribution event, with parents passing along to their children the importance of service to their communities and reaching out to help those less fortunate. That’s what brought out Ashley Barnes and her husband, Richard Barnes, and their 6-year-old son, Landon. They were joined by Cindy Lewis and her children, Mary Ellen, Kinton and Liza.

“As we prepare to feast at home,” Barnes said, “this is showing our kids how to help our community … and to help other families who just don’t have what we have.”

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