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Holiday food sharing program benefits 400 families in Twin Cities

Juliana Knot - Herald Palladium

Dec 21, 2021

Whirlpool Corp. employees Theresa Dunten, left, and Kathy Craig join volunteers from the city of Benton Harbor and the PGA of America to help distribute turkeys, chicken and holiday food to families Monday at the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency in Benton Harbor.

BENTON HARBOR — Some cars arrived as early as 10 a.m. Monday to receive food from the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency’s Holiday Food Sharing Program.

The sixth annual event was held in partnership between SMCAA, Whirlpool Corp., the city of Benton Harbor and the PGA of America.

Yvonne Vidt, community services manager of SMCAA, said around 400 families from the Twin Cities area would be served at the organization’s headquarters.

“They’re not going to sit in line from 11 o’clock on, if they don’t need something,” Vidt said.

Cars wrapped around the surrounding streets for the annual holiday event.

Families each got $80 worth of food – dairy products, a turkey, frozen chicken and Michigan apples and potatoes. Additionally, volunteers distributed non-perishables like flour, sugar and canned foods.

SMCAA Executive Director Kim Smith Oldham said the community service organization has remained busy by running water distribution in addition to its other services.

“We are up for the challenge, because we are community action, and this is what we do,” Smith Oldham said.

Jeff Noel, vice president of communications and public affairs at Whirlpool, said the Benton Harbor appliance maker had almost 30 volunteers help with food distributions Monday.

“Anything that we can do to give back, anything that can be done just over a couple hours to make somebody’s life better, it makes us all understand the meaning of Christmas,” Noel said.

Brandon Haney, championship director of the 2022 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, said all of the company’s full-time staff was volunteering.

“We look forward to this every year,” Haney said. “It’s just a special opportunity for us to give back to the city of Benton Harbor and local residents.”

For more information about the community action agency, visit, or call 925-9077.

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