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Restaurateur opens heart, doors for meal

Taking care of people comes natural for Rose “Polly” Byrd.Having spent more than 30 years working as a nurse, Byrd will beright in place when she opens the doors to her Main Streetrestaurant Thursday to offer free Thanksgiving meals for disabledand low-income residents.

But Byrd won’t be alone. She’ll have the help of numerouscommunity officials and dignitaries in the city’s first CelebrityHosts Thanksgiving Day Feast. From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. tomorrow,area ministers, police, sheriff’s and fire officials, businessmenand other local leaders will rotate shifts to serve dinner to theless fortunate.

Offering the Thanksgiving meals is something Byrd knew she hadto do since moving back to her hometown five months ago. Byrd, 47,spent most of her childhood in Brookhaven before leaving at age 19to pursue a nursing career. That career, along with a short stintmanaging a restaurant, has taken her to various places across thecountry. The last of which was in Watts, Calif., where sheparticipated in a similar Thanksgiving effort and got the idea tohost the same type event here.

“I just want to share what I have,” said Byrd. “You don’t dothings like this to be blessed. You do this because you areblessed.”

Byrd said she believes the event gives her and others in thecommunity a chance to give back.

“One of the best ways to witness God’s love to others is by youractions,” Byrd said. “God has plenty for us to do right here inBrookhaven.”

Community officials wholeheartedly support and anticipate theendeavor.

“There are people out there who wouldn’t have a goodThanksgiving meal without people with big hearts like Polly,” saidChancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop, who stopped by the restaurant forlunch Monday.

Bishop, who will be one of many taking turns serving food,busing tables or washing dishes, said this type of project is onlya symbol of the down-home, friendly atmosphere that exists inBrookhaven. He is looking forward to the positive effects it willhave on the area.

“One of the common traits of our community is that we are agiving and a caring community. This kind of thing has a tendency tobring people together with a common goal,” Bishop said.

The highlight of Thursday’s meal will be Byrd’s grandmother’schicken pie, which is raved over by customers every Monday at therestaurant. Along with that, there will be turkey and dressing,turnip greens, string beans, corn, macaroni and cheese, cornbreadand rolls, cakes, pies and banana pudding, and beverages.

Food deliveries will be made to elderly residents who arephysically unable to get out of their homes, and Lenoir’s LimoService will pick up those who are and desire to attend. Doorprizes will also be given away to attendees.

Byrd is excited about providing the free meals and hope all whotruly need it will take advantage of it.

“I’m just looking forward to seeing a whole bunch of smilingfaces,” Byrd said.