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Organizations feed hundreds Thanksgiving dinner

November 23, 2001

Organizations feed hundreds Thanksgiving dinner



By JULIE E. GREENE / julieg@herald-mail.com

Turkey, football, shopping, family gatherings and a day off to sleep late come to mind for many people when they think of Thanksgiving, Pastor Ron Shank said at the Hagerstown Union Rescue Mission's Thanksgiving Banquet.

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Shank said people need to remember to thank God on the holiday.

Whether motivated by spirituality, not wanting to be alone, or a sense of community, more than 100 people showed up for Thanksgiving dinner Thursday afternoon.

It was thoughts of God that brought Gerard Crawley, 18, of Hagerstown, to the rescue mission with his family.

"God told me to come down and get something to eat," Crawley said.

Nathan Toms, 28, and his wife, Sharon, 26, didn't have any family in Hagerstown for Thanksgiving so they decided to join the festivities at the rescue mission.

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Yvette Pugh's mother was going to serve Thanksgiving dinner at 3 p.m., but Pugh had to be at work by 4 so she brought her 7-year-old son to the rescue mission for the noon dinner. The outing provided them some "quality time," said Pugh, 28, of Hagerstown.

"It's pretty nice," she said. "They give you a big helping of food."

Her son, Frederick Keyes, enjoyed the pumpkin pie the most.

Joe Touey, 76, liked everything, especially the stuffing and fruit cup.

"That was the best Thanksgiving meal I had in my life," said Touey, in town from Baltimore. "Whoever's responsible for this is awfully humanitarian."

The meal consisted of 300 pounds of turkey and 300 pounds of potatoes. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, succotash, sauerkraut and rolls were served.

The mission was prepared to feed 300 people. Slightly more than 150, including 45 volunteers, were fed organizers said.

Executive Director Bruce "Sonny" Shank said the number of people attending the dinner has gone down over the years as other groups started holding Thanksgiving dinners.

Grace United Methodist Church in Hagerstown fed approximately 160 people, dinner organizer Ron Clipp said. That tripled the number of meals served last year when the dinner was started at the church, he said.

"They're finding out how much fun we have," Clipp said.

At Williamsport United Methodist Church, about 130 people were served Thanksgiving dinner, said organizer Kevin Noll. Meals were delivered to another 160 to 180 people at home.

The Union Rescue Mission served eight homebound people this year after being contacted by Consumer Advocacy, said rescue mission spokeswoman Nancy Shank.

This was one of the event's biggest years for volunteers - there were 45, including 12 employees from the Texas Roadhouse Restaurant on South Edgewood Drive.

"They called us. It was great," Shank said.

Ed Summers, the restaurant's managing partner, said helping out made the employees feel good. More employees wanted to help, but the mission already had several volunteers, he said.

"We do this for a living and today we're doing it for the public," Summers said.

For Roadhouse employee Richard Taylor, the effort was especially important.

Taylor, 43, of Hagerstown, said he stayed at the rescue mission briefly in 1979 and 1980 when he had problems with alcohol and drugs.

Taylor said the mission provided him with "three hots and a cot" - three hot meals a day and a place to sleep.

"Ten years later I got my life straightened," Taylor said. "It gives me a lot of gratitude ... to come back and give it to someone else."

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