Help Sponsor-A-Family for Thanksgiving

As most of us know, holiday season is slowly approaching and before we know it, the countdown from weeks and months will become days. Many of us look forward to giving thanks and spending time with our families, and sharing great memories and watching the holiday game while they feast, but there are some families who are not as fortunate as others. To ensure that these families at least have a meal to prepare on Thanksgiving Day, help make a difference by participating in the 15th Annual Thanksgiving Sponsor-a-Family Program.
The Sponsor-a-Family Program is a program where a plethora of departments and organizations from FSU provide unfortunate families in Western Maryland with a Thanksgiving food basket, allowing them to enjoy their holiday. “FSU alumni, Tony Washington helped start Sponsor-a-Family about 15 years ago with efforts to help bring a Thanksgiving meal to families in need over the holiday,” says Britney Burton from the Office of Civic Engagement.

Burton says that they ask groups on campus to sponsor at least one Thanksgiving basket for a family, which will include the basic foods included in a Thanksgiving meal such as turkey, ham, or a gift card. Those sponsoring the family can also ask for donations or collect items to donate such as non-perishable items like corn, stringed beans, collard greens, cranberry sauce, bread, or deserts.

Since the program has started, about 350 families have been sponsored and provided with Thanksgiving baskets. In the past two years, Burton says, “We have received between 75 and 95 baskets.”
Some of the groups that have participated in the program include FSU departments, Greek organizations, student organizations, athletic teams, families, individuals, and so on according to Burton. She says, “We are able to add more sponsors every year, which allows us to keep this amazing program running.”

Burton says, “We work with the local Interfaith Food Pantry, the Western MD Food Bank in Cumberland, schools, and churches to ensure that each basket we receive goes to a family in need.” She also says, “Each year we personally deliver baskets to approximately 70-80 families, and any additional baskets are donated to the Interfaith Food Pantry and the Western MD Food Bank to distribute to those in need.”

Burton says, “Growing up in the local area and seeing many people fall on hard times has given me an appreciation for programs like Sponsor-a-Family. This area isn’t the most prosperous, so it’s great to see community members reaching out to help one another,” she continues, “This is my first time working with the program, but there is no doubt in my mind that it will be a personally rewarding experience!”

Although Burton asks that departments and groups participate, it is open to anyone who wants to participate and help make a difference. All you have to do is contact her and she will send you the necessary information which will include a sample list of what can go in the basket. The food baskets will be delivered on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
Sponsor-a-Family is only for Thanksgiving, but Burton says they do a Toys For Happiness drive in December before finals week. Also, if you would like to help and donate any time, the local food pantry and the Cumberland Food Bank are always in need of donations.

Burton says, “Many people give during the holiday season, but these places are in need of your help year-round! If you would like to donate to the Interfaith Food Pantry in Frostburg, please contact them at 301-687-1728. If you would like to make a donation to the Western Maryland Food Bank in Cumberland, you can contact them at 301-722-2797, or any donations can be dropped off at the Braddock House anytime during the year and we will ensure they make it to a non-profit in need.”
If you know a family in need or would like to do what you can to help out, and would like to participate in the Sponsor-a-Family Program, then contact Britney Burton for some more information at

IMG_0041 IMG_0126 Thanksgiving-Baskets IMG_0057


Pictures credited to TBL/Danielle Hill

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