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Community comes together for food, donations, thanks and giving


Photo Courtesy of Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture.

Amidst the smell of tacos and barbecue, the sun shone down on a cluster of food trucks and tables overlooking a small pond on Legion Road on Sunday.

This was the scene of the Thanks + Giving Food Truck Rodeo, an annual event put on by Chapel Hill Community Arts & Culture

“The whole purpose of this event is to bring community together, really highlight a lot of the different organizations that are doing great work within Chapel Hill and the greater Triangle area,” said the organization's special events coordinator Xavier Vallejo.

The event featured five food trucks and 17  nonprofit organizations, as well as family activities, like a DJ and outdoor games. The leading nonprofits of the afternoon’s event were the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service and PORCH Chapel Hill-Carrboro – a food donation service. 

IFC and PORCH invited event-goers to bring food, toiletry and household items. Patrons at the event were also encouraged to get involved beyond Sunday’s gathering through volunteering and donating.

“A lot of people think of Chapel Hill as a Southern slice of heaven and think about a lot of the things that make people want to move here and make it a great town, but that also can lead to folks feeling like they live in the shadows when they don't enjoy that same prosperity and things are challenging,” executive director of PORCH Erin Riney said. “I think that we need to realize that there is a lot of food insecurity and some deep-rooted challenges that our folks have to face, and there isn’t a simple answer to that.”

Stephani Kilpatrick, development and communications manager of the IFC, said  the needs of the local community can be hidden by the visible wealth of Orange County at large. 

PORCH is seeing an unprecedented need, Riney said, reaching up to 2,400 individuals in the area — which will require the community to step up and provide an equal amount of support.

“This is the time where IFC is really looking for donations and getting donations, especially with winter, with needing blankets and food for our market to keep ourselves stocked,” Mar'lisa Wooten, community engagement director at the IFC, said. “This was a great opportunity to still do that and engage with the community and other nonprofits in that area.”

Nonprofit A Lotta Love, originally founded in Chapel Hill, attended at the event. The organization's main mission is to provide comfort and warmth to crisis centers and homeless shelters through aesthetic renovations. 

“I hope community members had an opportunity to see the various charitable organizations in the area and be able to maybe pick a few that they'd like to get involved in," Jennifer Galloway, a shelter lead at A Lotta Love, said. 

The nonprofits present at the event represented a diverse array of need-based and community engagement groups, such as disability inclusion programs, arts and cultural foundations, voter registration organizations and youth activity groups

Vallejo said that the Triangle’s interconnectedness makes the area feel like a small town, which prompts the networks that these nonprofits have built to make a larger, more expansive impact.

“It's really important in this season of giving to really connect with a lot of networks that are already pre-existing," he added. “There's a lot of different organizations that are doing great work in the area, and there's no better time of the year to support that."

@dthlifestyle |

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