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Thanksgiving dinner a tradition at church

November 26, 1999

Williamsport ThanksgivingBy JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER




WILLIAMSPORT - A tradition born five years ago to give thanks to the community continued to grow this Thanksgiving Day at the Williamsport United Methodist Church.

The early Thursday afternoon Thanksgiving meal was attended by 170 people with meals delivered to another 83 people, said Kevin Noll, chairman of the Thanksgiving Day Dinner Committee.

Last year 105 people attended the free dinner at the 25 E. Church St. church and meals were delivered to 62 people.

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"Each year it grows a little more," Noll told newcomers Midge and Tony Christopher of Williamsport.

"We're alone so I thought it'd be nice to be with other people and not to be alone," said Midge Christopher, 72.

The Christophers said they usually go to their childrens' home for Thanksgiving in New York, but they went three weeks ago for an early holiday celebration.

Clear Spring residents Floyd and Rosalie Joy also usually spend the holiday with their daughter and her family, but this year her daughter went to Cleveland to spend Thanksgiving with other family members.

The Joys said they decided not to join the trip to Cleveland and also turned down an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner in Westminster, Md.

Not wanting to drive on the holiday, the couple decided to go to the Williamsport church, where they have attended events before.

"This is family-style," said Rosalie Joy, 81.

The dinner menu featured turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, rolls, fruit cup and a variety of pies and cakes.

The dinner is a way to give back to the community after the church renovated the kitchen, said Noll, 33, of Clear Spring.

Everyone is welcome, not just church parishioners and Williamsport residents, he said.

This year's dinner attracted some newcomers as well as some regulars.

Florence Buila, 86, who lives nearby, discovered the dinner last Thanksgiving and returned this year.

"It's still good," Buila said.

Norma Grimm, 68, of Hagerstown, brought her great-granddaughter Kara-Ann Sulser, 6, to the dinner.

"I live alone and it's such a chore to cook for one person," she said. Instead they decided to come and enjoy the holiday with others.

George Williams, 84, said when his family stopped having Thanksgiving dinner at home they began a tradition of going to the Elks lodge on Robinwood Drive in Hagerstown for the holiday dinner.

This year his son-in-law, Dave Southerly, of Martinsburg, W.Va., suggested they instead attend the Williamsport dinner after seeing a back page ad in The Herald-Mail.

Williams, a resident of Outlook Pointe at Hagerstown, said he will return next year.

"I have no reason not to come as long as I'm around," said Williams, sitting with Southerly and his daughter, Eileen Southerly.

Ben McKee, 63, of Halfway, enjoyed a delicious plate of food and was taking a carryout tray home to his son who didn't get cleaned up in time after fishing to join him.

McKee said he would return later in the day to help clean up.

About 40 people volunteer to cook, serve and clean up, Noll said.

Joe Morgan, 62, of Williamsport, had his hands deep in a stock pot shaping stuffing into balls thanks to his sister, Nellie Payne, who encouraged him to help out.

The dishwashing crew - Jim German, Leonard J. Davis and Major Osborne, said they volunteer at the dinner to help others and give back to the community.

"I think it's just a good project. We enjoy the get-together with people in the community," said German, 70, of Halfway.

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