Dedicated volunteers drive Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Saturday, 25 Nov, 2017

She said she's extremely appreciative for the meal in front of her - Thanksgiving isn't the same without the classic turkey meal, she said - but she's even more grateful for the people at the table with her.

At the church, volunteers celebrated the successful meal preparation with a toast with sparkling grape juice.

"It's a full Thanksgiving meal", Reis said of the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn, buns, gravy, pickles, carrots, cranberries and pies served in a buffet.

After 35 years of hosting the annual community dinner, organizers have meal prep down to a science. The pastor says there was a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

"We've got a lot of seniors in the area and folks that have come to MB so this gives them the opportunity to be with an extended family".

"It's rewarding to come together as a group and work together as a community as well as seeing how it is such a blessing to others", Gratz said.

"I've been doing this for 12-plus years", he said of organizing the kitchen and getting the food prepared in the three days leading up to the dinner. They'll do anything for the people in the community.

"Everything we've done in here, we've put love doing things for other people makes my day", Chary Goffigan said. "We're supposed to go out and help the people and sow the seed for Christ".

Unger said when she began volunteering, 100 to 200 meals were delivered annually.

Across town, a line stretched outside of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Bryan during its Thanksgiving meal.

She said her volunteers make the event a possibility.

This year the Renoja family paid it forward and helped volunteered.

Woodson said she works long hours in Strasburg at the Hotel Strasburg and her parents live in Fairfax.

This year, more than 70 meals were delivered, which is a far cry from the first year when a single take-out meal was requested.

In total, 1,825 meals were served at the event. "We weren't going to say no because we believe in giving as much as we can".

As families across Garland County gathered on Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving, many made their way to local churches and nonprofit organizations to give back to the community.

"A family invited our family to help eight years ago and when you've been without food you know what that means", Concordia Lutheran Youth Minister Chris Henze said.