Holiday helpers: Millington cooks up a better Thanksgiving

Volunteers, from left, Dave Gamet and Darleen Stedry carry items for Glenn Shores III, right, on Monday during the annual giveaway of Thanksgiving food spearheaded by Millington Pizza and Carquest Auto Parts of Millington, with assistance from other businesses and organizations. (Photo by John Cook)
Volunteers, from left, Dave Gamet and Darleen Stedry carry items for Glenn Shores III, right, on Monday during the annual giveaway of Thanksgiving food spearheaded by Millington Pizza and Carquest Auto Parts of Millington, with assistance from other businesses and organizations. (Photo by John Cook)

Millington merchants and volunteers at the Millington Community Center gave away about 100 turkeys – along with pies, stuffing, canned vegetables and 10-pound bags of potatoes – this week.
Maybe best of all, the hugs were free, too.
Tears welled in Charlotte Arnspiger’s eyes as she embraced volunteer Brenda Gamet after Arnspiger received a frozen turkey, a bag of potatoes and the other food items for a Thanksgiving meal. She hauled away the food in a little red wagon, accompanied by her children, 6-year-old Koen and 4-year-old Mina.
“Everyone here is really close-knit and we take care of our own,” said Arnspiger, 41, of Millington. “They have a food pantry here, and I come here pretty regularly and they help out quite a bit. They don’t make you feel like you’re a burden.
“The Millington Rotary Club and the Millington Masons do a lot for kids, too, and for the families here in town.”
The project this week, though, was spearheaded by owners of Millington Pizza and the Carquest Auto Parts store in Millington. Glenn Shores III, 49, of Millington was grateful to receive the food. “It’s a very nice thing and I’m very happy about it; it doesn’t happen every day,” said Shores, recovering from injuries suffered in a recent fall.
Food recipient Ken Gamet, 69, of Vassar Township said his family will use it to prepare a Thanksgiving meal attended by Gamet and his wife, Jan, and the couple’s son and daughter-in-law, Trevor and Lisa Gamet. The three children of Trevor and Lisa Gamet also will attend the dinner.
The free food “always comes in handy,” Ken Gamet said.
The Thanksgiving food giveaway, in its sixth year, provided food for 75 households in its first year, but has helped about 100 households each year since then, said Mike Derscha, owner of Millington Pizza, which teamed with Carquest Auto Parts of Millington for the second year to fund the project.
“I’m doing just like Christ commanded me to – giving back and giving to the less fortunate,” Derscha said.
Tim Mahoney, owner of Carquest Auto Parts, said “it’s important to get behind people that we can count on, and Mike (Derscha) has been doing this (project) for quite a few years.”
Due to Mahoney’s financial help, Derscha said surplus money from the food giveaway this year will help the Millington High School Student Council buy gifts for families in need.
Vassar’s Central Shop Rite store sold turkeys “at cost” for this week’s food giveaway, said Dave Gamet, 65, of Vassar Township, a member of the board of directors overseeing the Millington Community Center, 8705 State Road.
Dave Gamet said the McDaniel Farms store south of Millington provided potatoes at “a very discounted price.” The Millington Cardinals Softball program provided the pies, and Jaruzel’s Cool Rental brought a refrigerated portable trailer – to store the turkeys – at no charge.
“There are a lot of people who definitely can use this food,” Dave Gamet said. “There are people who told us they wouldn’t have had a Thanksgiving dinner if it hadn’t been for us.”
Arnspiger said she’ll invite her mother – Shirley Bigelow of Otisville – to the family home for Thanksgiving. She said the food she received Monday will last past Thanksgiving.
“If you can cook, that’s a lot of food right there,” Arnspiger said. “You can use those potatoes and make mashed potatoes, baked potatoes and potato soup. And hash browns.”
Gladys Wischmeyer of Vassar, a volunteer at this week’s food distribution, said the project also lets her do what she enjoys: helping people.
“Since my husband (Gene) died four years ago, this gives me something to do, and keeps me busy,” Wischmeyer said. “People are so appreciative of what they get, because a lot of them probably would not be able to have a dinner if it wasn’t for the community support.”
Tom Gilchrist is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at gilchrist@tcadvertiser.com

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