MIDDLEBURG – It’s been a good year for Marie Kaltz and her family. Her and her husband’s jobs weren’t affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – or the shutdowns and layoffs that came with …
MIDDLEBURG – It’s been a good year for Marie Kaltz and her family. Her and her husband’s jobs weren’t affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – or the shutdowns and layoffs that came with it.
Her five children are healthy and continuing to excel under difficult times.
But yet there was an emptiness heading into the holiday season.
“This year has pretty much sucked for everyone, and it’s sucked even more for a lot of people,” she said.
Marie decided to make a difference. After using her Grocers Reward card everytime she shops at Winn-Dixie to earn points for discounts on gasoline or other groceries, she decided spend the money on others.
“I have five kids so my food bill is pretty large,” she said. “I could have used those points for my own family, but I have a job. My husband has a job. We didn’t need them.”
So she used them to buy more than $300 worth of groceries for Clay Behavioral’s Thanksgiving dinner.
Every Thanksgiving Clay Behavioral, the lead Agency providing mental health and substance use treatment and prevention services in Clay County, serves Thanksgiving dinner to its clients who wouldn't otherwise be able to enjoy a holiday meal.
This year’s feast will be provided by Marie and her family. Marie and Ernie Cohen, Community Liaison for Clay Behavioral, recently went shopping and used her points to buy enough turkey, ham and side dishes to feed 100 of hungry residents.
She also purchased disposable and paper goods to make sure each packaged to-go dinner is COVID-19 safe.
“This truly was an amazing gift,” Cohen said. “It’s that kind of thought that makes a difference in our community. The first time I met her was when we went shopping and it turned out to be an incredible experience.”
Marie and Ernie didn’t need to purchase pies. Waste Not Want Not provided a pallet of them from a long-distance trucker whose load was refused because one case was damaged.
Given Waste Not Want Not’s lack of freezer space, rescuing that much frozen food would not have been possible without the help of Challenge Enterprises of North Florida. The organization that provides person-centered programs, services and work opportunities for individuals with disabilities in Clay, offered Waste Not Want Not the opportunity to store the pies in their walk-in freezer until they could be distributed among the various charities serving Thanksgiving meals this week.
Marie, along with three nonprofits worked together to make this Thanksgiving happier for nearly 100 people.
Typically, nonprofits, each with its own mission, business model and clientele, don’t work together. But here in Clay County, local charities – there are more than 150 nonprofits headquartered in Clay – collaborate, helping each other however they can.
Clay County charities work together because regardless of their specific mission, they all have one goal in common: to best serve the citizens of Clay by making Clay County a great place to live, work and play.
Marie always has been dedicated to her community. She donates clothes to Quigley House, and her son, Connor, volunteered at Waste Not Want Not and other local food pantries.
“It makes you feel good when you’re helping out,” Marie said. “It’s better when what you’re doing goes directly to somebody who needs it.
“You want to teach the power of giving.”
And the power of sharing.
“We’ve been fortunate,” Marie said. “We’ve kept ourselves afloat. There are people out there who weren’t able to do that. We’re all in this together.”
Clay Behavioral contributed to this story.