Three Wide Foundation adds more families to Christmas meal, coat giveaway

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 3, 2021

SALISBURY – A locally based foundation plans to reach more students and their families than ever this month with a hot meal and new warm coats.

Three Wide Foundation has been hosting charitable giveaways near Easter and Christmas for years. The foundation works with the local branch of Communities in Schools to identify students and families to benefit from a free Christmas dinner and the coats.

Most years, the event involves giving families invitations to a big sit down meal, but the foundation has moved to drive-thru giveaways since last spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That format will continue this year, but foundation co-founder Steve Thomas said he prays it’s the last time the foundation has to opt for take-out instead of dining in.

“We don’t actually get to see those smiling faces,” Steve said.

Other than the format change, the giveaways have gone on without a hitch. The foundation held its Easter giveaway this spring.

Donna Thomas, Steve’s wife and co-founder, said the program has gotten a bit bigger this year. The foundation is now serving students from eight schools, up from seven. The plan is to give away 200 coats and 350 meals.

Donna said she starts looking for coats about a year in advance, scouring stores, online and physical, for Christmas deals and collecting donations. The goal is to give kids brand new coats because some of the kids have only ever been given hand-me-downs.

“We’re committed to it,” Donna said. “This is basically our Christmas.

She said the collection started to take over the lower floor of their house, and the they had to start renting a storage unit.

Steve said there has been leftover food donated to other local charitable organizations, but the hope is to give away everything because of recent growth.

Steve said his goal is, in a few years, to grow to the point where the foundation can rent the Salisbury Civic Center and open the meal part of the charity to the community. The meals are currently only available to identified families.

“I hope that is jam packed and we run out of food there too,” Steve said.

The Thomases run the programs with their friends and families. They heard about the poverty and need in Salisbury in their church years ago and were taken aback.

“That shouldn’t happen here,” Donna said, adding anyone on any given day anyone could find themselves facing hardship.