Feeding a multitude

November 25, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

TRI-STATE - Preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal for a family of five or six can be daunting. Imagine what it would be like if between 500 and 600 people were coming to dinner.

Helen Harris helps coordinate just such an extravaganza for St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Martinsburg, W.Va., and even with all the coordination and attention to details, there can be some bumps in the road.

"Two years ago, we ran out of sweet potatoes so I ran to the grocery store, bought some more and we fixed them," she said.


Last year, there was a shortage of stuffing when 600 people showed up. "We didn't make more - we just decided to remember to prepare more stuffing this year," Harris said.

When the church first began serving a Thanksgiving dinner four years ago, volunteers cooked turkeys at the parish school kitchen and in their homes. That turned out to be a lot of work.

"This year, Raymond Catrow of Ramon's is donating the turkeys and hams, as well as ... cooking, slicing and delivering them to us for the meal," Harris said.

Committee work started in early October. Two days before the dinner, volunteers gather to chop onions, dice celery and tend to all the other details needed to pull the dinner together.

On the day of the dinner, between 75 and 100 volunteers serve and then clean up afterwards.

"We walk by faith," Harris said. "The whole point of this dinner is to have a place for people to walk in, be with others and have a meal."

Tracy Clipp has headed up the Thanksgiving Day dinner project at Grace United Methodist Church in Hagerstown for several years. Last year, 75 people ate at the church and another 100 had holiday meals delivered to them, Clipp said.

"I have learned that you can't do this without the grace of God and the help of our volunteers," Clipp said.

Following is a partial list of Thanksgiving holiday dinners gleaned from flyers, press releases, posters and church bulletins. Others may be occurring in the Tri-State area.

· Martinsburg, W.Va. Union Rescue Mission, 602 W. King St., on Thanksgiving Day, meals will include an 8 a.m. breakfast, a 1 p.m. dinner and a 5 p.m. supper.

· Grace United Methodist Church, 712 W. Church St., Hagerstown, the fourth-annual community Thanksgiving Day dinner will be provided free from noon to 2 p.m. in Rider Hall. For delivery, call 301-790-1831 by 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

· Williamsport United Methodist Church, 25 E. Church St., a free Thanksgiving Day dinner will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

· The Thanksgiving Day dinner will be served from noon to 4 p.m. in the cafeteria of the St. Joseph Parish School at Queen and Stephen streets in Martinsburg, W.Va.

· Hagerstown Union Rescue Mission Thanksgiving Day dinner for the needy and homeless begins with a service at 11:30 a.m. followed by a meal in the Trinity Center at 125 N. Prospect St. for an estimated 250 to 300 men, women and children.

· St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, Pa., will hold a community dinner on Thanksgiving Day from noon to 3 p.m. in the Outreach Center, 44 E. Main St. For more information, call 717-352-2543.

· Salvation Army, 159 Lincoln Way West, Chambersburg, Pa., on Thanksgiving Day, a traditional Thanksgiving meal will be served from noon to 2 p.m.

"Our dinner isn't just for people who are poor financially but also for new people to the area and those with no family," Harris said of the dinner at St. Joseph's in Martinsburg. "We welcome everyone to come and be a part of the Thanksgiving celebration."

At all of these events, the public is invited.

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