News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 22, 2012

Ham donations help ease holiday hunger

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Sherry Reynolds arrived outside Catholic Charities at 5 a.m. Friday, braving the snow and biting wind to be first in line to receive a free holiday ham.

“I was afraid I would be too late,” Reynolds said, once she and others in line were moved out of the wintery weather and inside Ryves Hall to await the Ham for the Holidays giveaway.

The distribution of the hams — donated by B&S Plumbing and coordinated by United Way of the Wabash Valley and Catholic Charities Foodbank — started about 10  minutes earlier than the announced 11 a.m. start time and concluded about 20 minutes later.

In addition to the hams, Catholic Charites handed out a bag of oranges, a can of corn, a can of green beans and a loaf of bread to each person in line. In case there were more people than hams, a continency plan was to give out boxes of ground hamburger.

Well before 11 a.m., the Ryves Hall community room was packed with people patiently waiting to receive a much-needed holiday gift of food.

Myrna Grinstead, who said she went to Ryves Hall directly after work to get in line, had been sitting and waiting for about three hours before the giveaway began. But the wait was worth it for her.

“It’s really a blessing, because I don’t make a whole lot [in wages], and it really helps out with feeding the kids,” Grinstead said.

James Montgomery of Farmersburg picked up food for his elderly neighbors who were unable to travel to the giveaway.

“That’s what God wants you to do, take care of others,” Montgomery said.

He and his wife are raising their grandchild, and he said he feels blessed to have a vehicle, a warm home and food to eat, so he is happy to share the ham with his neighbors, who receive only about $100 per month in food stamp benefits.

Catholic Charities agency director John Etling started off the giveaway with a prayer of hope for the days ahead, and for strength through struggles. The crowd responded with “Amen.”

The incoming winter weather caused some concern for Etling and United Way director Troy Fears, who started communicating early Friday about whether to postpone the giveaway — originally planned to occur in the Catholic Charities parking lot — or to move it indoors.

“It was kinda rough out there at 5 o’clock this morning. I know that,” Etling said of the folks who arrived early.

Being food insecure is reality for many people year-round, not just during the winter holidays, he said.

He commended donors Bill and Sally Stewart of B & S Plumbing for their donation of the 150 hams, and the volunteer efforts of the United Way and Catholic Charities supporters who helped the giveaway go smoothly.

“I suspect the volunteers may get more out of it than the people who line up here,” Etling said of helping others, “because they know there are families who will have a holiday meal at home because they were here.”

For more information about Catholic Charities, go online to

To learn more about the United Way of the Wabash Valley, go online to

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.