A Thanksgiving or Christmas feast with glazed ham and all the fixings can get expensive quickly, resulting in a single meal that could cost as much as the rest of the week’s food budget. Many families make do by pooling resources: Aunt Laura brings the potato salad, Grandma fixes the mashed potatoes and gravy, and Dad — Lord help us — hopefully gives up on his scheme to flash-fry the turkey and just let Mom cook it.
But there are some who don’t have that kind of support. Those are the people Debbie Young, owner of Christian Corner Meats, is trying to reach with “Operation Help Somebody,” a care package program meant to provide families with good food for a low price.
“We’ve got two businesses that deal with necessities, one of which is clothing and the other is food,” said Young, who also owns Smith Cleaners, located next door to the butcher shop on Highway 431. “What better way to show the love of Jesus than do what he would do?”
After watching customers stretch their budgets to the breaking point, Young started planning a low-cost care package that she could sell at cost — making no profit for the store — to provide real assistance to the community. While mulling over her options for storing frozen foods, she discovered holiday packages from the Dan’l Boone Inn brand of country hams that didn’t require refrigeration, thanks to vacuum-seals on the meats.
“They have a 180-day shelf life, and in a refrigerator it can last longer than the people keeping it,” said Young.
She’s now in possession of 100 tidy, white boxes a little larger than a shoebox. Each is crammed with food: two 12-ounce packages of sliced ham, a 5-ounce package of meat trimmings for gravy, a ham hock to put in a crock pot of beans as seasoning, cornbread mix and dried pinto beans. There’s also 12 ounces of center-cut country ham, which Young is especially proud of.
“That’s a treat, and I don’t care who you are,” she said. “Especially around the holidays.”
The entire box costs $15. Gathering items from around the store for comparison, Young explains the ham alone would be $18 in a regular purchase.
“Everything is deeply discounted from what the price would be picking up the same amounts on the shelf,” she said.
While the initial order is for 100 boxes, Young says that if “Operation Help Somebody” is popular, she’ll order more through the holidays.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if 1,000 people came in and bought a box to give to people they know who need it? Get one and give it to someone who has helped you personally,” she advises.
Boxes will be available starting Nov. 8 through Christmas. To pick up a care package, visit Christian Corner Meats at 1002 U.S. Highway 431 in Anniston. Call the store at 256-237-3518 for more information.
Young’s other business, Smith Cleaners is holding a coat drive through November and December. Call the dry cleaners at 256-236-8884 for information on making a donation.