Reverend Mel may be retired, but he’s still hard at work.
Mel Farmer, 89, a pastor at the River Street Baptist Church in Oneonta, still hosts his radio show and, this time of year, still donates turkeys and hams to those in need through his “Angel of Love” program.
“That was a calling from the Lord to become a minister,” he said, reflecting on his 43 years as a pastor.
He’s on the radio regularly with his program “Gospel Hymn Request Hour,” heard on WDOS in Onetona, WDLA in Walton, and WCHN in Norwich.
“It brings people in and gets our message out,” he said.
His show helps get the word out, too, about the “Angel of Love” food giveaway – something he has done for the last 10 years.
“The turkey giveaway helps supply a need in our area,” he said. “I see a need at Christmas and it’s even worse now. People are hurting.”
Reverend Mel no longer gives out actual turkeys and hams because of shipping difficulties. Instead, he sends Price Chopper gift cards to those who send letters asking for help.
“Let’s say you need a turkey,” he said, explaining the process. “You write a letter and I send one of those gift cards and you can do what you want with it. It gives people the opportunity to buy whatever they need.”
Reverend Mel said he seeks donations annually from local merchants. He said that this year, though, he in need of additional assistance because one of the people who used to go the merchants passed away recently.
Although he also gave out hams during Christmas time, he said in the past he got more requests for turkeys.
“There’s something about turkeys for Thanksgiving,” he said.
Reverend Mel said there is no money involved for him. He says distributing turkeys and hams is “great” and fulfilling.
“It’s ‘mission accomplished’,” he said.