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Gail Baird Foundation, First Church donate turkeys for veterans in need

Local foundation bolsters church’s ongoing tradition of providing holiday meals for veterans served by Goodwill Manasota’s American Veterans and Their Families program


As the holiday "season of giving" kicks into high gear, an area church has continued to give generously to ensure that area veterans can enjoy a delicious holiday meal this Thanksgiving, while a new contributor has helped to double the effort.


First Church of Sarasota has, for many years, donated turkeys and boxes of sides to be given to veterans served by Goodwill Manasota's American Veterans and Their Families program and this year was no exception. Thanks to additional funds from the Gail Baird Foundation, the number of turkeys – along with boxes containing sides, a roasting pan and some extra food for later – distributed this year was 100.


The food was distributed to area veterans during the weekly Veterans Coffee Socials on November 14 and 21 at Goodwill’s Veterans Services program office.


“Many of us believe that there is so much we need and should do for veterans’ programs,” said First Church of Sarasota’s missions chair Peggy Hite. “A number of us are older, many have served in the Armed Services, and we support that part of our government’s mission. So many veterans return from service with PTSD and other issues; we appreciate the things that Goodwill does for our country’s returning heroes.”


In addition to subsidizing a portion of the turkey giveaway, the Baird Foundation also provided branded fleece jackets and gift cards for those collecting food.


“My father, Major William Wallace Baird, Army 101st Airborne Division, served in Vietnam and my mother, Gail Baird, was a military wife," said Gail Baird Foundation President Eric Baird. "It is an honor to assist local veterans and their families through this partnership between Goodwill's Veterans Services program and the Gail Baird Foundation. It is humbling to see how grateful the veterans are; I’m forever thankful for their service.”


Goodwill’s American Veterans and Their Families program works to help eliminate barriers to employment, provide opportunities for higher-paying positions for veterans and their families, and connect veterans with needed social services. It also offers plentiful networking opportunities and emergency financial assistance – which is particularly important as already at-risk veterans face continuing challenges related to the pandemic, economy, and recent storms.


For more about Goodwill, visit experiencegoodwill.org.


Photo ID: Gail Baird Foundation team members and Baird family members and friends during the turkey giveaway for area veterans on November 21

Provided photo/Goodwill Manasota


About Goodwill Manasota

Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With philanthropic donations and revenue generated by the sales of donated goods, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and those with other barriers to employment by providing jobs, job skills training, and free career services. For more information or for a listing of locations, visit experiencegoodwill.org or call 941-355-2721.

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