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By Cynthia Haggitt
The holidays are often hard when loved ones are no longer with us.
During this time of the year, a great way to honor a loved one’s legacy is to have a food drive in their name. Missy Blade decided to celebrate this Thanksgiving season by giving and helping her neighbors face hunger in the Jerseyville community.
“For two weeks, I held a little food drive in memory of my son, Briley. I made a little Facebook post, put out a huge, blue tote and a clipboard, for people to sign when they dropped off their donations,” Blade said. “Well my blue tote was full within two days and I thought that would be it. Nope! I was wrong. People started donating items almost every day. Everyone was excited and my little blue tote turned into a blue trash can.”
Blade then decided to extend her food drive because it just blew up after everyone heard about it. She said that two weeks of donations turned into a two month food drive in her son’s name just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.
“My dining room and half of my kitchen was literally packed with food and now I had the ability to call Sarah Collins at Township.”
People started donating money in Briley’s name and the monetary donations were large sums of money.
“I received money from people donating from six different states. From old high school friends, no longer living in Jersey County, but wanting to give back. College friends, Ram’s Cheerleader friends and old casino coworkers. It is so awesome because some of these people who donated had no connection to Jersey County.” Blade said.
She said she is blessed and was so overwhelmed by the outpour of support she received.
“People honored Briley even at their places of employment. Some local businesses and friends held their own ‘lil food drives at their jobs or business. Well, all of those ‘lil food drives do add up.” Blade said.
At the conclusion of a two month food drive and receiving over $925. Blade was able to pay for special things that SNAP does not pay for, like personal hygiene products.
“I went shopping at Dollar General and Dollar Tree. I went to the manager and asked for all size bottles of 2&1 shampoo and conditioner. I also bought Irish Spring soap (Briley’s favorite!) I bought so much that I cleared the shelves and bought them out of this stuff,” Blade said. “After talking to Sarah to find out what these Angel moms and their kids need for a special holiday meal, I took a trip and went shopping at Aldi’s.” Blade said.
During her shopping spree Blade had five carts filled with stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie filling, and all the fixings that a person may want for their Thanksgiving dinner. Blade said that Aldi’s was very accommodating as she was shopping.
“They were so helpful and kind with me during this incredible shopping spree. I also got cases of a few of Briley’s favorite things to eat! Snacks that kids can take with them. Cereal and fruit bars, the chewy sweet and salty bars, etc. things that Sarah said would be a treat for them.”
Even after all of Blade’s shopping trips, she still wasn’t done. She said there are still $200 of cases of produce and veggies, from Sinclairs that will be delivered next week to Township.
“This is what Briley would have done and would have wanted for the community he lived in. It has been a blessing and very emotional for me to do this, Blade said. I can’t begin to thank everyone who donated. I can’t believe the Township of Jersey Food Pantry even sent me a letter of thanks. It is a little overwhelming but in a good way.”
Blade said she was going to initially plan to send a thank you card with the names of all who signed the clipboard with the food.
“Well after thinking about it, my thank you card was not big enough so I made a poster size card of thanks,” I still couldn’t fit everyone’s names on the big card because it didn’t include all the anonymous monetary donors names.”
Blade said this was a healing and therapeutic experience for her.
“Briley is still helping people and he would like to thank everyone who helped make this possible. This is more than I could have ever dreamed. My heart is full today knowing that there will be so many people fed in Jersey County, in loving memory of Briley Joseph Blade,” she stated.