NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodPerry


More than 75 days after Hurricane Idalia, Perry neighbors band together to prep for holiday season

Families depending on food pantries as hundreds lose work
Posted at 6:38 PM, Nov 13, 2023
  • Perry is still working to move beyond the damage done by Hurricane Idalia and a major business closure.
  • Food pantries are stepping in to fill the gap.
  • Watch the video above to see how neighbors are pulling together and how you can help.


Right now, ABC 27 is calling on you to help us feed families this Thanksgiving. 
As we enter 10 years of the ABC 27 Turkey Drive benefiting Second Harvest, the need is greater than ever. This is especially true for families impacted by Hurricane Idalia.

Dan Anderson has lived in Perry for 30 years. He describes the town as a, "close knit community. When one person hurts, we all hurt."

Anderson and his wife Kristy tell me the community has been through a lot of hurt in the past few months. Hurricane Idalia hit Perry with 125 mile an hour winds, ripping off roofs and snapping trees in half.

Just a few weeks after the storm, the area's largest employer, Georgia Pacific, announced the closure of its Foley Cellulose mill.

Kristy says it has been hard for many.

"Those who haven't found jobs are relying on food pantries."

Those food pantries include ones like the one she and her husband run out of First United Methodist Church. They have been coordinating the pantry for 12 years, but they say the need is greater now than ever.

Second Harvest of the Big Bend CEO, Monique Ellsworth, says the numbers reflect that need.

"It is estimated that there were 5,000 families that were impacted immediately by the closure of that company."

Many of those families shop at the Save A Lot in Perry. Store manager Robin Patterson is trying to do all she can to help amid damages they faced in the weeks after the storm.

"It's been trying, but everyone has come together. It's nice to be able to help other people."

The way she's doing that: through donations Save A Lot is taking from customers at the check out line. "The customers will donate to the food drive and we take it to the local churches to distribute to the community." Those churches include First United Methodist.

The Andersons say there is one emotion that exudes out of everyone they serve: "They're so thankful. I mean, they feel like your family."

Here's how you can help those families this Thanksgiving. You can make a monetary donation here. Thursday we will be accepting frozen turkey donations at two locations. Ponce de Leon Park and Bannerman Crossing.