BY BRANDY TEMPLETON

Statesville resident Gina Starrette decided to help others even when she wasn’t doing well.

In early October she was hospitalized for four days after suffering a seizure that left her unable to walk or care for herself. 

“I relied on my husband Bryan to do everything for me,” Gina said. 

About a week ago Gina started become more independent. She was able to stand and walk with the assistance of a cane.

While spending large amounts of time alone, she began thinking of ways to help others.

“My blessing that came out of this tragedy was having all this time on my hands,” she said. “Watching the news, you see food drives all over the country. I thought it was time to have one in Statesville.”

She enlisted Bryan and her “besties,” Angela Chaffin and Laura Baker, to help.

Although her husband was skeptical about organizing a big event in a short amount of time, especially given Gina’s condition, she convinced him that they could do it.

“I told him that we have enough connections and know enough people,” she recalled. “We have a lot of social media following.” 

Gina’s goal was to provide 200 families with free, ready-to-cook meals. 

The community rose to the challenge and donated $1,900 to support the effort.

Since Gina couldn’t physically do the shopping, Bryan, Angela, and Laura did it for her.

Then, on Thursday night, 10 volunteers formed an assembly line and assembled 123 complete meals, a number that increased to 225 bags. 

On Saturday afternoon 30 volunteers, including YMCA workers and Iredell County Register of Deeds Ron Wyatt, helped load meals into the cars of residents in the Y parking lot. 

Brian Summers, a senior advisor for the U.S. Senate, flew in Friday night to help out. He said that he made the trip for a very good cause.

“I believe in Statesville that much, and I also believe in the mission of the YMCA,” he said.

At 12:24 p.m. on Saturday, the first car rolled up to Christmas music and smiles.

YMCA director Angela “Blake” Blakle was thankful for the outpouring of volunteers and generosity.

“I think because it’s been such a crazy year, people are being more generous,” she said.

Recipients could choose either a turkey or a ham, along with cans of corn, green beans, yams, gravy, bread, and a pie. Publix donated large boxes of different breads, including five large boxes of rolls and desserts. Ingles also donated bagged meals containing rice and peaches.

At 3 p.m. cars were still coming in. Gina sat patiently in her wheelchair by the curb wishing everyone “Merry Christmas!”

In the end, all 225 meals were given out.

In the future, the Starrettes along with the YMCA of Statesville would like to serve even more families.

“I feel so good about this,” Gina said. “I’m so happy making a difference.”

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