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November 27, 2013

‘A good blessing to receive’

Families by Choice warms hearts at Garfield Towers, Gardens

TERRE HAUTE — Dozens of Terre Haute’s neediest people will be enjoying a full Thanksgiving dinner thanks to Families by Choice, a locally based not-for-profit.

On Tuesday, volunteers, staff and residents from the three Families by Choice homeless shelters worked to prepare more than 30 Thanksgiving food baskets for needy individuals and families living at Garfield Towers and Garfield Gardens, properties of the Terre Haute Housing Authority.

The baskets included a half-turkey weighing about 10 pounds, stuffing, potatoes, onions, canned vegetables, rolls and more. Nearly everything was donated, said Angie Francis, community outreach coordinator for Families by Choice.

The meals include all of the food traditionally associated with Thanksgiving except the pumpkin pie, Francis said. When word got out that many people normally served by other charities might not receive a Thanksgiving basket this year, “everyone really stepped up” to help, she said.

After the food baskets were prepared and loaded into vans, volunteers and staff drove them from Christway Church on South Seventh Street, where they were prepared, to Garfield Towers, on the city’s north side. Inside the lobby, several residents anxiously awaited the approaching food.

“It really will be a good blessing to receive it,” said Janet Criss, who was waiting with her husband, Don. “We really could use it.”

The Crisses will use their basket to serve a family meal at a relative’s home in West Terre Haute, Janet said. “We’re diabetic, so we have to watch what we eat.”

Families by Choice, which has three homeless shelters in Terre Haute and is looking to expand, brings supplemental food to Garfield Towers and Garfield Gardens on a regular basis. The charity serves dozens of people, many of whom are unable to get out on their own.

Vicki Cox, another resident of Garfield Towers, said she would gratefully be using her Thanksgiving basket to serve a family dinner at her mother’s home. Her brother has been away a while and will be home for the holiday, she said. Her own son passed away three years ago at age 20, making the holiday difficult for her, she said.

After hours of work and weeks of effort obtaining donated goods, volunteers pushed a cart loaded with frozen turkeys into the Garfield Towers lobby Tuesday afternoon. Housing Authority employees and others helped unload the birds and deliver them to the neediest people in the apartment building.

Residents of Families by Choice homeless shelters happily volunteered their time to help with the formidable project, Francis noted. “They want to give back and do just as they are having done to them,” she said.

“It’s all about making a difference here, where we live,” Francis said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or

How you can help

• Families by Choice can always use more volunteers to help with monthly food deliveries, Francis said.

• Anyone can volunteer by contacting Families by Choice through its website at or calling 812-230-4401.

• The group’s email address is

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