The Soul Food Cafe Mission was the beneficiary of gifts, including cash donations and 100 turkeys, from several businesses during this holiday season.
For the second consecutive year, owner of A & J Collision Repair Jody Gatchell sponsored the donation of turkeys to the mission. The "Hit a Deer, Win a Turkey" program is promoted on the business’ website and Facebook pages. It is a popular marketing strategy among auto body repair shops in areas where drivers and deer share the roads, but Gatchell said he decided to change it up a bit.
"When I decided to do the program last year, I wanted to use it as a way to give something back to the community," he said. "I asked people in the community where a gift like this should go and ‘Soul Food Cafe Mission’ was the overwhelming reply."
Last year, his business provided 50 turkeys to the mission.
Gatchell said the program received unexpected interest from the community this year.
"So many customers, friends and acquaintances sent us their financial support," he said. "We were able to double our contribution over last year."
He said the donations totaled roughly $1,400.
"The locally-owned business is part of the heart in any community and I’m really excited to see what we’ve accomplished with this year’s program," he said. "A large corporation is able to give from its resources, but the local business is able to rally the support of community members. We did this together, and I expect that next year we’ll increase our donation to 150 or maybe even 200 turkeys."
Donated turkeys is not the only connection between A & J Collision Repair and the Soul Food Café Mission. Gatchell and Rick Harvey, the mission’s executive director, are both members of Conway Networking Advantage, a local chapter of Business Networking International, which is a business-referral based consortium.
Vic Quinn, chapter president, said the local chapter was formed in 2004 and has been enrolling local business members since.
"As a network of businesses, we wanted to make a meaningful contribution to the community during the holidays," he said. "We knew our gift would have a direct and vital impact on needy families through the mission."
Conway Networking Advantage donated $950 to the mission in December.
Harvey said he wanted to help the community and is thankful for those who support the cause.
"I joined Conway Networking Advantage as a way to raise awareness of our work in the business community," he said. "We cherish our business partners who support us in many ways throughout the year. We had no idea we were in line for this level of benevolence. Financial support is essential to our work and double the turkeys over the last year, well, that’s a special blessing."
The Soul Food Café Mission is a non-profit, faith-based food distribution and support agency operating on Mondays at the 2nd Baptist Church in Conway. More information about the mission’s work can be found at www.soulfoodcafemission.org and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/soulfoodcafemission.