Struggling families get Thanksgiving cheer in food form

Ten families from around the Twin Cities had a little more to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The struggling families received turkeys and other Thanksgiving food as part of an effort by the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Omega Psi Phi fraternityâÄôs Xi chapter to spread holiday cheer to those in need. Minneapolis resident Lattrice Whittler-Barker , who received one of the Thanksgiving packages, said she was excited to know that she had been chosen, considering the troublesome times her family has been going through. Whittler-BarkerâÄôs husband fell into a coma last week after suffering a heart attack, and the economic hardships have hit her in the job market as well âÄî sheâÄôs unemployed. âÄúPeople are losing their jobs,âÄù she said. âÄúTheyâÄôre not able to do the things they were used to.âÄù She said she hoped more people could receive these kinds of gifts in the future. âÄúI appreciate that there are people out there doing these kinds of things to people who arenâÄôt as fortunate,âÄù she said. The fraternity chose the families from lists given to them by local churches, as well as by Lisa Bryant, communications director at the Minneapolis Urban League, a nonprofit community organization. Two fraternity members delivered the Thanksgiving packages as far away as Brooklyn Park. The families didnâÄôt originally know theyâÄôd be receiving the packages, but were notified by the fraternity members prior to Thanksgiving Day. Bryant said with the economy the way it is, people all over the state have been suffering. âÄúJust giving a few families a pleasant Thanksgiving is a good thing,âÄù she said. âÄúI think these guys at the fraternity are doing a good thing for our community.âÄù Although the fraternityâÄôs graduate chapter has done something similar in previous years, this marks the first year that the undergraduate chapter undertook such an event. It wonâÄôt be the last time, either. Member Wilfried Zehourou said he would like to see the program expand, with more student groups getting involved and a bigger budget so they can help more people in need in the community. âÄúThis is being done on our own budget,âÄù he said. âÄúWe ended up being a little under budget âĦ next year, that allows to plan based on that.âÄù Omega Psi Phi member Femi Kolawole , who came up with the idea, said he wanted to provide an avenue where deserving families who âÄújust donâÄôt have enoughâÄù could have an opportunity to smile again. âÄúYou try to help as much as you can, and you try to help the right people,âÄù Kolawole said.