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Fellowship, it's what's for dinner

December 25, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT ? With turkeys and hams, potatoes and gravy, and much more, the volunteer crew at Rehoboth United Methodist Church was ready for a hungry crowd.

But there was no way to know how many people would show up for the free Christmas meal.

The best they could do was "lots of prayers and advertising," said Laura Eckard, one of the organizers.

It worked. Halfway through the meal, between 50 and 60 people had stopped by the church on East Salisbury Street in Williamsport.

An assembly line of volunteers helped load plates with meat, potatoes, string beans, sauerkraut and rolls.

The choice of pies included pumpkin, cherry and apple - with whipped cream, said organizer Bill Eckard, Laura's husband.

"We go all out," he joked.

About 20 or 25 people from Rehoboth and other churches in the Williamsport area were there to help plan and serve the meal.

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All are welcome

"We just do it to reach out to folks who are alone or lonely," Christine Shenberger, an associate pastor at the church, said as she served turkey.

No one asked Tuesday's visitors why they were there - all were welcome - but Shenberger said some of the regulars from the weekly Shepherd's Table free meal showed up.

Deena Uzorma brought her 7-year-old son, Judah.

She said she was invited by her friend, Sadie Fox, who is the Eckards' daughter.

The rest of the day would be spent relaxing, she said.

Debby and Ron Bolden arrived as the meal was winding down. They sat and ate, as they waited to work.

"We're here to help clean up," Debby Bolden said.

When the work at the church was done, they planned to visit her parents in Boonsboro.

Cooking begins days in advance

The work started days before.

Laura Eckard said 14 turkeys were cooked Sunday. Helpers from Calvary Temple and Downsville Church of the Brethren prepared hams in advance.

Setting up started Monday night.

Then, on Tuesday, the first volunteers arrived at Rehoboth at 6:30 a.m. for the meal, which started at 11 a.m.

"I'm a planner," Laura Eckard said.

"I think it's a great outreach for the community," Debby Bolden said.

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