Thanks to the Powell Downtown Columbus Sertoma Club, hundreds of families will receive holiday meals this season.
For 15 years, Sertoma member and Powell resident Larry Coolidge has been heading up a program that purchases meal kits for central Ohio families for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Families receive a package that includes pre-cooked turkey and a variety of sides -- enough to feed about six people.
Coolidge said funding comes from myriad sources, including church members, area businesses and regular people who donate to the cause.
How does he convince so many people and businesses to donate?
"I beg," he joked.
Coolidge expects to reach 10,000 meals provided this holiday season -- split between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with a few hams delivered for Easter -- and credits the program's longevity to its partnership with Dublin's Living Hope Church.
He said he wanted to avoid strangers handing out meals to people they've never met.
"It takes away their privacy, and I never wanted to do that," he said.
So instead of buying and delivering the meals himself or with the club, Coolidge partnered with the church -- which meets at Davis Middle School, 2400 Sutter Parkway in Dublin -- to have the meals delivered to those in need by people they already know.
"I called them up and said, 'Do you have people you help during the holidays?' " Coolidge said. "I told them, 'If you tell them it's from Sertoma, that's fine. But if you don't want to mention us, that's fine too.' "
The Rev. Aaron Taylor, the church's pastor, said the fit between the two groups was natural.
"As a church, we always try to do things that are going to better the community -- that's kind of our mantra," he said. "So if we find people who are already doing that, we just want to come alongside them and work with them."
Plenty of programs for food donations exist throughout central Ohio, but Taylor said Coolidge's work stands out.
"For us, it's the relationship we have with Larry," he said. "Partnering with a friend, someone we trust and have a relationship with, is really good for us."
Coolidge said knowing the group has done some good in the community is the only motivation he needs.
Sometimes, however, he'll get letters from people who enjoyed meals donated by Sertoma, which provides an extra hit of emotion. One letter in particular, from a young boy, stands out to him.
"It said, 'Thanks for the turkey dinner. We were just going to eat pizza,' " he said. "That really got to me."