With the holidays approaching under the ever-looming uncertainty of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of giving back is being demonstrated by a local mother, Shealyn Charles, and her family.
Every Friday, Charles and her two daughters, Madilyne, 13, and Haelyn, 9, deliver home cooked meals to struggling people and families that cannot leave their house due to COVID-19 complications, other sickness or just a meal to help those people get by.
"Thursdays, we prepare everything and then put it in our extra fridge down in the basement, until Friday morning starting around 9:30 or 10 when we start delivering meals to all these families," Charles said. "We have quite a few that are our regulars and then we have other people that just reach out when they’re struggling when they need it or they’re in quarantine.
"I don’t ask circumstances, I just need a name, the family size, and the address."
Wanting to do volunteer work since recently moving to Dodge City, Charles said she was inspired by her grandmother, who raised her and frequently volunteered in her community in Jetmore.
Charles said she enjoys feeding people and that it all started when her daughters’ youth group canceled a get-together and left them with extra food she had prepared for them.
That day, within minutes after reaching out online to anybody who might need extra food, someone in need had contacted them.
After delivering it to them, Charles decided that they would deliver a meal to one family a week, which soon evolved into five families a week, and then 10.
"But I still had people messaging me and I hated cutting people off," Charles said. "So, I started asking people if they would make food donations or however, they wanted to help us help others because I feel like we can domino affect kindness together if we all help each other."
The most food they have delivered on a Friday, according to Charles, has been 57 meals. Charles said that now it seems every week they have someone willing to help them and their efforts continue to grow.
With the holidays approaching, Charles and her family are getting ready to prepare bigger and extra meals for people.
They so far plan to deliver Thanksgiving meals the day before Thanksgiving so that people and families can stay home and enjoy their time together without the pressures of leaving during whatever their current circumstances may be.
Charles and her family also plan to prepare meals for Christmastime and deliver those on Christmas Eve.
"I think it’s important to teach kids to be kind to another and I feel that lesson has fallen off the wayside," Charles said. "We’ve gotten so selfish and we just worry about ourselves when there’s so many people that are in a lot of trouble right now with the way things are going.
"It’s not much but it’s a meal that will help these people not be hungry."
Charles and her family maintain their giving and charitable work through the donations of food and financial donations for more food and containers.
Referrals and requests are taken by noon Wednesday with the intent that when all the donations are picked up on Thursday, they can start preparing meals for Friday.
Charles said she has set the cut-off date for the Thanksgiving meals for Nov. 16 so that she can use the rest of that week to cook and prepare those meals for delivery.
People in need of meals or who know of others needing meals, or those wanting to donate food or financial help to Charles and her family’s cause, can reach out to her on Facebook.