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Local groups host Thanksgiving meals

November 30, 1999|By JENNIFER FITCH

With the table setting in front of Phyllis Stouter moments away from being put to use, the Hagerstown woman bowed her head for grace along with hundreds of others in the room.

The "family" with her Thursday at noontime did not share a genetic connection, but rather the Father whom Stouter credits with ending her drug and alcohol abuse eight years ago.

When Stouter accepted Jesus Christ, it was at the Hagerstown Union Rescue Mission, where she still frequents for Thanksgiving dinner. She returns there more for the fellowship with her Christian brothers than the food.

"We just talk about the Lord," Stouter said.

The Hagerstown Union Rescue Mission and a number of other organizations in the Tri-State area on Thursday served holiday meals in which togetherness seemed as plentiful as turkey.

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In Boonsboro, Chris and Christa Noyes approached their pastor at Boonsboro Bible Church in 2005 about serving a community dinner, and fed 85 people.

"My husband and I have been wanting to do this for a long time," Christa Noyes said.

The couple and 18 other volunteers joined together Thursday to once again offer a vast menu including traditionally roasted turkey, deep-fried turkey, green beans, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing and macaroni and cheese.

"This is a banquet, really," Bettie Houser said as servers brought her dish after dish of fixings.

The Boonsboro woman's children live out of state, and she didn't want to cook for herself. A neighbor told Houser about the Boonsboro Bible Church dinner, so she brought niece Georgeann Salisbury of Hagerstown to the fellowship hall.

"We had a lot of families that came in (last year) and said that, if not for us, they would have nowhere to go," Christa Noyes said.

Hagerstown siblings Mike and Carolyn Lann started their holiday by volunteering at the rescue mission, then joined with family in the evening.

"I like to give my time to something that counts," Carolyn Lann said in her third year helping at the rescue mission. The experience has given her a different outlook on life and gratitude for family, she said.

She started volunteering through a connection with Chris Shank, the rescue mission's director of "Wildside Kids."

Shank said the Thanksgiving Day dinner served Thursday was the 51st, and included turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and fruit cocktail.

"You see the regulars plus some," he said.

The rescue mission, whose volunteers did most of the cooking starting at 3:30 a.m., typically serves 150 to 250 people, and delivers 30 to 40 meals in the Hagerstown area, Shank said.

"We're delivering mostly to shut-ins, people who can't make it out, nursing homes," said Shank, grandson of the Resh couple who founded the Hagerstown Union Rescue Mission.

"I think in the beginning, it was one of the only (free meals) in the area, and over the years, it became tradition," Shank said.

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