Community Provides 250 Turkeys To Those In Need
Amy Smith, 43, was driving her mother’s car in the line outside the Salvation Army in Harrisonburg to pick up turkeys and other fixings for her family Tuesday morning.
The engine in Smith’s van recently conked out, but that hasn’t been her hardest challenge this year.
In March, Smith had her second surgery to deal with a third brain aneurysm — a ballooned artery wall.
“This whole side of my face, from here to here, there’s no feeling,” she said, pointing to the top of her cheek and gesturing down to the bottom of her neck past her scar. “I’ll never get it back.”
The doctors tried to save the nerves, but the only way to ensure the aneurysm wouldn’t grow back was to slice it, Smith said.
Smith said on top of her other health concerns, including diabetes, her husband left his work live-hanging chickens at a poultry plant so he wouldn’t get COVID and infect her.
It takes up to 14 days for symptoms of the virus to appear, and it is most dangerous for the elderly and those with high blood pressure, diabetes, anemia, obesity and coronary heart disease, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Smith hasn’t worked since a car accident in 2007 broke her back and sent her to the University of Virginia Medical Center “for quite a bit of time.”
“I was supposed to never walk again,” she said. “So yeah, by the grace of God [I can].”
It was the same year, 2007, her mother’s aneurysms were discovered — all 16 of them.
“She had stroke after stroke,” Smith said. “It was a very challenging time.”
God has also helped her mother overcome her 16 aneurysms, according to Smith.
Ten year later, Smith’s own aneurysms were found.
Smith and her husband were young parents and have been together for 26 years and it hasn’t been easy. Smith was born in West Virginia, grew up in Harrisonburg, moved to Timberville and then back to Harrisonburg.
“We struggled. From the time my kids were little, I always knew when they got older that we would be able to give back to somebody else that needed it, but here I am still 24 years later,” Smith said, tears welling in her eyes.
“I want to be the one that gives the meal to help somebody,” she said.
Harold Gitau, captain of the Salvation Army in Harrisonburg, said it is the group’s mission to help anyone with need “in Christ’s name without discrimination.” On Tuesday, volunteers handed out 250 turkeys.
“Making sure everybody has a meal for Thanksgiving, and not only a meal for Thanksgiving but throughout the year,” Gitau said. “For everyone to have a meal, it’s a blessing just to know that nobody should go hungry and especially during this festive season.”
The turkey and other food that now sat in the car with Smith her family, and other families like hers, were donated by Cargill, Shenvalee Golf Resort, Harrisonburg Radio Group and area residents with volunteers from the Harrisonburg Police Department, Harrisonburg Fire Department and Shenvalee Golf Resort.
“It means more than anybody can know to a family like mine,” Smith said over the idling engine of her mom’s roughly 30-year-old bronze Honda Accord sedan.