'It's surreal': Bounty & Soul volunteer adjusts Thanksgiving efforts

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
Lack of access to healthy foods, like the fresh vegetables found at markets hosted by Black Mountain-based nonprofit organization Bounty & Soul, is a key in the intersection of hunger and health.

BLACK MOUNTAIN - Margie Boyd has a son in Greensboro and a son in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Boyd family hasn’t been together for the whole year, Boyd said, and she isn’t expecting much for Thanksgiving.

The Greensboro-based Boyds include two grandchildren in preschool.

“The jury’s out as to whether they’ll be coming up or not,” Boyd said, while the Fort Collins son is a definite no-show while he continues to assist COVID-19 patients as a nurse.

Everyone is trying to be careful. While it feels strange, Boyd said she feels more comfortable.

“I’m more comfortable having a quiet Thanksgiving and feeling safe and keeping my family safe than I am taking that kind of risk,” Boyd said. “I feel like we’ve all invested so much and stayed in faith that it would really be a shame to put it in jeopardy for a holiday.”

Boyd has been volunteering with Black Mountain-based nonprofit Bounty & Soul for “five, maybe six” years. This year, Bounty & Soul announced its first Thanksgiving break for staff and volunteers.

Director of community engagement Karla Gardner says the break is for “an opportunity to safely reconnect with our loved ones before we enter the rest of the holiday season.”

“The reason we’re doing this is just that our staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic, really burning the candle on both ends trying to get it all together and meet the growing need of our community for the healthy food support and the programming,” Gardner said.

The Thanksgiving break replaces a “healthy Thanksgiving spread that we would have, this community meal to connect with everyone over.”

Bounty & Soul, which celebrated its six-year anniversary in August, is a community-based nonprofit that focuses on providing fresh produce and wellness education. Though volunteers and staff are off for Thanksgiving, Gardner said that efforts to “(provide) that nourishment” are not stopping.

The nonprofit has partnered with Swannanoa Christian Ministries and Keller Williams Black Mountain to provide a Thanksgiving meal box to 20 families in need. In addition to the meal boxes, Gardner said Bounty & Soul will continue to share information about other available food resources.

The program is also supporting “Small Business Saturday on Nov. 28, with local businesses contributing a percentage of sales to the nonprofit.

Additional information for Small Business Saturday, including a list of participating businesses, and a volunteer sign-up is available on Bounty & Soul’s website.

‘I miss it’

Boyd, who volunteers each Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon, says her time volunteering is a “very important part of my week, every week.”

“When I’m on vacation, or when they’re closed, I miss it,” Boyd said. “I miss seeing the volunteers. I miss the process of sorting food and filling boxes.”

Bounty & Soul volunteers preparing boxes in 2017.

A Presbyterian minister transitioning into retirement, Boyd added that Bounty & Soul’s efforts drew her to the nonprofit.

“It’s one of the most meaningful ministries I’ve ever been a part of because it’s so community based and hands-on, and it just meets such an immediate need," Boyd said.

Boyd admits to not recognizing volunteers without face masks and says she’s adjusted to how the volunteer community, which “even before COVID was particularly close," is handling pandemic restrictions.

Having not seen her family together all year and now being unable to volunteer for Thanksgiving, Boyd recognizes how different the holiday has become.

“It’s surreal, really, but there’s a bit of light at the end of the tunnel and I trust that next year, at some point, things will be better,” she said. “But it’s tough. It’s real tough.”

And then, she says, she recognizes how lucky she’s been.

“Having said that, it’s so hard to complain while living here because we have the freedom to be outside, and I spent a lot of time hiking … and I can social distance with friends while walking and hiking,” Boyd said. “I don’t feel trapped. So, really, it’s not a bad situation.”

Boyd and her husband are continuing to discuss whether they will prepare a Thanksgiving meal “or if we’ll just grab some takeout.” She says she’s leaning toward cooking to have the smell of food linger throughout their home.

She says she looks forward to seeing her family together again, “though, it may be some time before then.” This year, Thanksgiving with the Black Mountain Boyds is “just going to be different.”

“It’s going to be a quiet one, I think,” Boyd said.