‘Free the Need’ brings Thanksgiving to Weed

Deborra Brannon
Volunteers from the ‘Free the Need’ organization distribute boxes of food outside the Weed 
Mercantile on Monday as part of the organization’s Thanksgiving Turkey Basket program. 
Each box 
contained about 50 pounds of food, including a whole turkey, fresh fruit and 
vegetables,, coffee, bread, and canned goods.

The grassroots organization Free the Need included Weed in its Thanksgiving Turkey Baskets program this year, distributing 350 boxes of food outside the Weed Mercantile on Monday.

Free the Need has been distributing surplus food and clothing to northern Siskiyou County families in need since 2001.

This year, the organization expanded its Thanksgiving program to assist the community of Weed in their long-term recovery, according to a press release.

“We had baskets reserved for every single family who lost their home in the fire. Baskets were also available on a first come, first served basis for other families in need,” volunteer Francoise Devresse said.

Devresse said the baskets distributed to Boles Fire families contained some additional items, including scarves, mittens, or slippers hand-knitted by a woman in Yreka.

“We plan to expand our program to Weed temporarily to assist local food banks by filling the gap and help the community in its long term recovery. We’re planning to come to Weed twice a month, and we’ll take it month by month,” Devresse said.

Averaging 50 pounds, each Thanksgiving box contained fresh fruit and vegetables, canned and dry goods, bread, coffee and a large turkey “for family and friends to prepare healthy holiday meals and celebrate Thanksgiving together,” the press release stated.

The Community Disaster Relief Fund of the Shasta Regional Community Foundation sponsored the purchase of the turkeys for the Boles Fire families.

It was difficult to reach those displaced by the Boles Fire, Devresse said, as many families are temporarily out of the area.

By partnering with Kelsea Ochs at the Weed Family and Community Resource Center of Weed, Renee Casterline from Great Northern Services, and Denise Spayd from Siskiyou Food Assistance, Free the Need was able to locate and reach out to families early and schedule the pickup of their Turkey Baskets.

Free the Need

This all volunteer organization was started in the Bay Area in 1989. Founded on the idea that “there is enough to go around” and fueled by a desire to improve the welfare of families and children in their area, the group began collecting surplus food and clothing and distributing it to families in need, according to the release.

Free the Need in Siskiyou County recently received funding from the McConnell Fund of the Shasta Regional Community Foundation and from local contributers which allowed the organization to acquire a second van for this year’s food program.

“Often, volunteers would use their personal vehicles to do additional pickups and deliveries, but many times a vehicle would not be available,” volunteer Daisy Meyer stated in the release.

She reported that the new van fills the gap and has allowed the organization to double the number of families it reaches weekly.

“And for this Thanksgiving Giveaway, it also made it possible to nearly double the number of baskets distributed,” she stated in the release.


Free the Need acknowledged in the release that local supporters helped make this year’s giveaway a success.

Those included Elizabeth Lahey and General Produce of Mount Shasta, Pastor Denny and the Church of the Valley in Grants Pass, Glenn Harvey and the volunteers of the Boles Fire Food Distribution, Trader Joe’s, and “the many volunteers and donors who continue to spread their surplus in their communities.”

They also thanked the Weed Mercantile for making their space available for the delivery.

To learn more about Free the Need, visit www.freetheneed.org.

To contact a volunteer email ftn@freetheneed.org.