Area volunteers treat the needy to Thanksgiving dinner

November 27, 1997


Staff Writer

Volunteers across the Tri-State area took time out Thursday to help serve Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless, the poor, those with no families and others in need.

Kevin Noll said churches are always asking people for donations, but when Thanksgiving comes, he believes it is important for his congregation to give something back to the community.

Noll said about 125 people were treated to turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn and green beans during the third annual Williamsport Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the Williamsport United Methodist Church.


Noll said he decided to start offering the dinner because there are a lot of people in the community that do not have relatives to eat Thanksgiving dinner with or have little money for food.

At the Union Rescue Missions Inc. in Hagerstown, Derrick Cook and William "Gus" Randall were two of about 120 people who came to the mission's Trinity Center off North Prospect Street for a free Thanksgiving dinner.

For Cook and Randall, the dinner was just an extension of the life-saving help they have received since coming to the Rescue Mission in the last year. Both men said they came to the Rescue Mission after having problems with drug and alcohol abuse. They praised the Rescue Mission staff their help, especially Rev. Carl Black, who is constantly there to encourage people and teach them that God will forgive them, despite the problems they have.

"God was in the house today. They made us feel as welcome as if we were with our regular families," said 39-year-old Cook.

Volunteers at the mission cooked 300 pounds of turkey and potatoes, 75 pounds of candied yams, 50 pounds of stuffing and 20 gallons of gravy, said Melvin Smith, who has helped serve the dinner for six years.

Smith said he helps prepare the dinner every year because "God has been so good to me. It's a way of returning something. I have a heart for people that are down and out," Smith said.

At the Union Rescue Mission in Martinsburg, W.Va., about 175 people were fed during the day, a spokesman there said.

Church members and community organizations were not the only ones giving out free food.

Thursday marked the fifth year in a row Del Mills and Sandy Mowen have opened their restaurant on Lincoln Way West in Chambersburg, Pa., for a Thanksgiving meal.

About 135 senior citizens, homeless people and others came to Dilly's restaurant to enjoy a feast of 10 turkeys, mashed potatoes, baked corn and desserts, said Mills. Couples who did not feel like cooking also joined the crowd, Mills said.

People could eat "absolutely free" or give a donation up to $6.95. Proceeds from the donations went to the South Hamilton Ruritan Club for improvements to baseball fields in the community, Mills said.

About $239 was raised, Mills said.

Mills said he enjoys giving food away on Thanksgiving more than sitting at home and eating. Mills said he also worries about people who get depressed this time of year.

"We would like to think we have helped some people through the holidays by doing this," Mills said.

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