Times can be tough for many people with the economy still recovering, and the holiday season is not bright when there is little or no food in the cupboard. Two Cabot community outreaches are preparing to meet that need for Thanksgiving, and each needs donations and volunteers.

The Lunchbox Connection, which gives children sack lunches during the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, and the Cabot Community Thanksgiving Feast are each bracing for greater demands with the coming season.

This will be the fourth Community Thanksgiving Feast, organized by Heather and Dane Moore; and it will be the second year for Lunchbox Connection, organized by Susan Hedin. Neither claims affiliation with a specific group, and each depends upon community support through donations and volunteers.

This year’s Cabot Community Thanksgiving Feast will be held at Cabot Church of Christ, 500 North First St., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Lunchbox Connection will be at two schools — Central Elementary, 36 Pond St., Cabot, and Ward Central Elementary School, 1570 Wilson Loop Road, Ward. Serving during the Thanksgiving break will be 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Nov. 25 – 27, and 29; Christmas break serving will be Dec. 23, 24, 26, 27, 30 and 31, at the same schools.

"Heather and I do this feast every year with donations from our community" Dane Moore said. "Last year, we served over 450 meals and we are expecting well over 500 this year."

"We have no funding or affiliation with any church or organization and donations are needed to make this Thanksgiving a success," Moore said. However, donations have been slow and businesses and individuals are asked to help make the Thanksgiving Feast a success.

Hedin said that last year there were about 100 sack lunches handed out each day at Westside Elementary School, which did not include "extras" sent out for later. Students are the focus although, "No one is ever turned away," she said.

The first Lunch Box Connection was so successful that it was continued for the spring break and expanded to Ward Central Elementary School also, Hedin said. With two locations operating, "We handed out about 200 lunches each day."

Hedin said she was led to begin Lunch Box Connection when she found out that about 200 children in the Cabot School District might go hungry during the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. For many of the children, the meals at school are their only assured food for the day, she said.

Arkansas ranks first in the nation for food insecurity, and for many children the meals they get at school are the only ones they can depend upon, Hedin said.

The Cabot Community Thanksgiving Feast was begun by the Moores after a fruitless search for a place to volunteer in Cabot.

"In 2009, we looked high and low for a place for our family to serve in the Cabot community during Thanksgiving." Heather Moore said. After failing to find such an opportunity to volunteer at Cabot, they went to an out-of-town community dinner to serve.

The disappointment led the Moores to make a community-wide Thanksgiving a ministry in Cabot. "The goals for the feast are to show the love of Christ, provide a relaxing, home-like atmosphere and a first-class Thanksgiving meal," Heather Moore said, pointing out Matthew 25:34-40 as a biblical foundation for the ministry.

Volunteers can cook a casserole or vegetable in their home and bring it at an appointed time; they may come and serve at the event, or both, Dane Moore said.

Lunch Box Connection needs include paper lunch sacks, napkins, bottled water, sandwich bags, peanut butter, grape jelly, healthy snacks and single-serving bags of potato chips. "It costs about $150 a day at each school," Hedin said.

Cabot School District opens the cafeterias for Lunch Box Connection to use, but the food that is distributed is donated locally, Hedin said. "We feed their hunger with food and their souls with love," she said.

Moore said the Community Thanksgiving Feast is to assure people that they do not have to be alone and they do not have to spend Thanksgiving without a meal or a place to go, "…We invite the whole community to have a Thanksgiving meal with us."

For more information about the Cabot Community Thanksgiving Feast, to volunteer or to donate, go online to www.cabotfeast.com; call Heather Moore at 501-259-3799; or by e-mail to daneandheather@suddenlink.net

For more information about Lunchbox Connection, to make a donation or to volunteer, call Hedin at 501-786-3589; on Facebook at lunchboxconnection; or the website http://lunchboxconnection.weebly.com/