Churches open doors for holiday meals

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 1, 2008

There was lunch for everyone Thursday as two local churchesoffered dinner for those who – for whatever reason – couldn’t haveThanksgiving with family this year.

“That’s what we were after,” said Brookhaven Living WordCommunity Center Pastor Debra Brinson. “We wanted the people thatare disconnected to know that they are not alone. This is for thepeople who are displaced by the storm or who have no family here orwho can’t afford to do a Thanksgiving dinner, or whatever the needis.”

First United Methodist Church’s Doug Sullivan CommunityThanksgiving Dinner served the same purpose, volunteers said.

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“This gives people with nowhere else to go a place to comecelebrate the holidays,” said volunteer Larry Tucker. “And we’vedelivered a lot of plates too.”

Both community efforts said they had people come into theirchurches and eat, but they also had a large number of people whohad walked in and taken plates to go. Both ministries deliveredplates, too.

All agreed it was worth the effort.

“There are a lot of people around here who would have gonewithout turkey and dressing this year,” said FUMC’s Linda Tucker.”We’re just glad to be reaching out to the community.”

The delivery and takeout service flourished, most agreed,because that way people could eat Thanksgiving dinner in their ownhome.

“We’ve had a lot of people carrying it out, and for the mostpart, they’re picking it up for family, too,” said Brinson.

In addition, FUMC sent 100 plates to the Lincoln County Jail toinsure that even the inmates who are away from their loved ones atthe holidays would get their turkey.

Missions Committee Chairman Jennifer Calhoun said the projecthad been not only a church effort, but also a community effort. Shesaid Alexander Junior High and Lipsey School donated canned beans,and church members donated the meat and the desserts.

“It has really pulled us all together to do this,” she said.

Passing around the holiday spirit was as much a blessing to thevolunteers as it was to the diners, said BLWCC volunteer KershandaHerring.

“This is about thinking of the people that don’t have meals athome and encouraging them,” she said. “It’s been such a blessing tosee them leave with a smile on their faces.”

Karen Sullivan, wife of former Mayor Doug Sullivan, for whom thedinner was named, agreed that the giving was as much of a blessingas the receiving. At one point when FUMC workers believed theymight run out of turkey, Sullivan sent family members home to pickup their own turkey to bring back to the church, just in case.

“We’re a lot more blessed by giving,” she said. “And we’re sothankful for all the people that turned out to help us, too.”

Eleven-year-old Zachary Bryant helped load plates and runerrands at BLWCC. He said to him, the mission is about reaching outto the less fortunate.

“It’s about giving back to the community,” he said. “Helpingpeople, and thanking God for what we have.”