By Derrick C. Parker
Scioto Voice Writer
The holidays are a great time of year for many. People from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions come together to celebrate family, community, and human decency. But for some families, the holidays can also be a stressful time of year. Money can be an issue, as parents may have to decide between presents or setting the table for a traditional holiday feast.
But the 14thStreet Community Center is looking to make Christmas less stressful for needy families in our area. On Thursday, December 20thfrom 6-8PM they will be hosting a holiday turkey giveaway.
“We are going to have 100 or more turkeys,” promised 14thStreet Community Center Board Member Drew Carter. “If you or someone you know is in need, reach out to me on Facebook or give me a call at 740-821-6822.”
“Originally, I had the idea of hosting a community dinner,” said Carter. “But I had a lot of people message me asking if we could help families for Christmas. So, I thought it was best to give these birds away to those families and organizations who will actually be cooking dinner on Christmas.”
The 14thStreet Community Center is working in partnership with The Ohio State University and Westbanco. At the event, The Ohio State University will also unveil a new exhibit.
“The exhibit comes out of a class we have at OSU called the Ohio Fields School,” explained Professor Cristina Benedetti. “The class teaches cultural documentation, and we built it on the basis of partnering with community members in Scioto County and Portsmouth.” The students from these classes visited the area on spring break, and offered to help different community members and groups with various projects while documenting them with interviews, photography, etc. One such community member OSU worked with was Drew Carter.
“We were working with people that are well connected and doing interesting and great things in Scioto County,” continued Benedetti. “When the project was finished, we still wanted to do something to give back to the community. People had been so generous with their time. So, we developed the exhibits and a really cool event. At that event, people discussed different topics that were meaningful to them and something that really popped up was the term ‘placemaking’. How do you construct a sense of place in a changing environment? So, we came up with 9 banners addressing that and different topics important to the community.”
Those banners range from conservation, recovery, natural disasters, gathering spots, to creativity and community needs.
“The banners were all housed at the Morris University Center at SSU until last weekend. Now, they will go to specific community locations- such as the 14thStreet Community Center.” Benedetti hopes the 9 different banners will draw interest and bring people to areas outside they are unfamiliar with within the community.
“We had extra funding left over, so each of the banner hosts will get $500 in funding from OSU to put on an event meaningful to them. Drew’s idea was this turkey giveaway. Its a great way to get people together for the holidays. It will bring people to the center and help them learn more about the services they offer…It’s been cool watching it come to fruition. It’s definitely snowballed as more and more people have come on board.”
Many other community groups are participating in the event, including the Portsmouth Police Department, Scioto County Sheriff’s Department, Portsmouth Fire Department, Sonora Mexican Restaurant, Portsmouth City officials, SSU Men’s Basketball Team, and Shawnee State Park.
“We’ve just gotten a great response,” said Drew Carter. “On the same evening, Sonora is going to come down and feed people tacos. Shop with a Cop is the same day and they are going to be taking families out shopping for the holidays and then bringing them back here for a turkey. All 30 families participating in that program will get a turkey.”
“I think its a great way for these organizations, for Sheriff Donini and Fire Chief Raison, to come out and give back to their communities. Let people see their face. It’s a good thing when the community comes together and has a good time. Sam Sutherland and folks from the City will also be there. It’s just great to show everyone the Christmas spirit.”
If readers know anyone that needs a turkey, or whom wants to volunteer contact Drew Carter or the 14thStreet Community Center.
“This is a great way for the Center to give back,” said Carter. “We are working hard with a new board trying to clean things up and get some programs up and running. Good things are in the works.”