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Organizations open hearts, kitchens on Thanksgiving

November 28, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Doris Holman's Thanksgiving was brightened Thursday when a delivery from Grace United Methodist Church in Hagerstown arrived at her door.

The delivery was for eight warm turkey dinners, complete with gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sauerkraut, corn, green beans and dessert.

"I'm just glad all my kids could be here," said Holman, 33.

She and her seven children were together at her North Prospect Street apartment, something that doesn't happen often. Some are in foster care, and she had to schedule the family to be together Thursday.

Volunteers at Grace United Methodist served more than 100 meals by delivery Thursday, as well as another 80 or so at the church beginning late in the morning.

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That church's tradition of serving meals is in its fourth year. Churches, rescue missions and other volunteer organizations around the Tri-State area kept alive the tradition of giving this year with free meals for anyone who asked for them, and some who didn't.

Holman, for instance, said she was prepared to make dinner, but a Department of Social Services worker called the church to prepare the meal for her family.

Holman's neighbor, Mattissa Yates, 38, said it was a nice gesture.

"It was more people were looking out for her. It was just helping hands," Yates said.

Others who received the delivered meals also were grateful.

Edna Rohrer was among several people at the Walnut Towers apartments who received the free meal.

She said there was a list posted inside the building, and someone put her name on it for her.

"I'm 82 years old. I haven't been well, so it's much appreciated," she said. "It was delicious. You get something like that, you just don't know who to thank."

Robert Bailey, 78, lives down the hall from Rohrer. He also lives by himself, and said he's not much of a cook.

"It was good. Will they do it every day?" he asked with a chuckle.

Tracy Clipp, 34, and Becky Stone, 41, helped prepare the meals beginning Wednesday night. They said the program began four years ago.

"We wanted to do something more meaningful with our holiday," Clipp said.

They said Thursday they had a good time putting it together and helping the community.

"It's wonderful to watch it grow," Stone said. Last year, the meal delivery program only went to 15 homes. This year, the number reached 100.

Clipp said the meals were bought with donated funds. She said it was heartwarming to be able to feed people.

One family came in the midst of moving their home. They just didn't have time to fix dinner, Clipp said. She said a youngster in the family lit up when he walked in the door.

"He was just happy to be here," Clipp said.

In Martinsburg, W.Va., the Union Rescue Mission served meals. One diner there reached by phone said it was great to be able to be a part of the celebration.

Jim Kidwell, 59, works for his room and board at the mission by working as a warehouse manager during the year. After working a half-day Thursday morning, he took in the holiday meal with friends of his.

"Oh, it was delicious," Kidwell said. "It was all home cooked. It was a feast."

Kidwell said he's seen a lot of friends pass through or pass away, and he took the time Thursday to think about what he was thankful for.

"I thank the Lord for shelter and food, friends, (and) we live in a free country," Kidwell said.

The Salvation Army in Chambersburg, Pa., served about 400 meals, said Pat Hughes, the office manager.

"It was fantastic. It's a special day for us and we want all people treated special," said Hughes, 56, of Chambersburg.

Her organization had about 70 volunteers working, and the meals were served restaurant-style, where anyone who came was seated and given a menu, Hughes said.

She said it was a great day of volunteerism.

"It's not just grown-ups that are a part of this, but it's children as well. And I think that's just great. These people have a kind heart," she said.

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