Friends Helping Friends deliver food to 531 families 

Family Dinners

Not enough time to do all your holiday errands? Try feeding 500 families. Michael Ray Pearson Sr. checked that off his to-do list last week. "I lived in a subsidized neighborhood as a child, and I just remember people coming and dropping off food to us over the holidays," he says. "I've been so blessed, I decided to give something back." Pearson, a 15-year employee at Hunton & Williams, where he works in the office services department, first came up with Friends Helping Friends for Christmas in 1998. The law firm helped set up a nonprofit organization to get him rolling with donations. Two years ago, Friends Helping Friends delivered a holiday meal to more than 100 families. Last year, Pearson says, they delivered boxes and bags of food to more than 250 families. This year, he and his fellow Friends delivered food to 531 families. The 417 largest families also received Butterball turkeys, purchased at deep discount thanks to Winn-Dixie on Broad Rock Road. Ukrop's at Chippenham Crossing also discounted food including candied yams, string beans, stuffing and soda. Pearson's church, Gethsemane Christian Fellowship, put a Bible in each of the 531 boxes. They were delivered Dec. 13. It took from about 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pearson begins fund-raising for the project in July. This year, he raised nearly $10,000. Pearson, 37, emphasizes that Friends Helping Friends helps "not just one race of people but all races." Families are identified for the program throughout the year by the city social services department, churches and other organizations. "When people see that you're serious about something," he says, "that's when they get behind

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