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Community dinner brought meaning to Thanksgiving

Meal is prepared and served at St. John's Lutheran Church in Hagerstown

Meal is prepared and served at St. John's Lutheran Church in Hagerstown

November 25, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- The idea started where many inspired notions come from -- around a kitchen table with like-minded friends and a homecooked meal.

Several couples, friends through church, were gathered for a dinner of chicken potpie at Tracy Clipp's home when George Stone posed the question that started it all.

"George asked 'When are we going to be doing something meaningful with one of our holidays?'" Clipp recalled.

The question evolved into plans for a community Thanksgiving dinner and planning progressed with the support of Pastor Robert Barton at Grace United Methodist Church in Hagerstown.

That was 10 years ago. Now the meal is prepared and served at St. John's Lutheran Church, all with donated food, Clipp said. Last year, 125 Thanksgiving meals were delivered and 150 meals were served in the basement of the church's Education Building.

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Clipp said the meal, which is served from noon to 3 p.m., is open to everyone and that some guests linger for the entire time, relishing the homecooked holiday meal and social interaction.

The founding group included Clipp; Stone and his wife, Becky; and Colista and Dan Shoemaker. Another couple also was part of the group, but has since joined another church.

Debra and Tim Grove have helped with the meal every year, and Art and Claire Campbell came on board later. Rick Butler also joined the planning group, Clipp said.

This year, Hagerstown Community College students were helping prepare the meal. Clipp said she, Becky Stone and Colista Shoemaker do most of the planning, which begins in October. They do the grocery shopping the Monday of Thanksgiving week and preparations begin in the kitchen on Wednesday.

"We love working together," Clipp said.

This year, 16 turkeys were to be roasted, 150 pounds of potatoes peeled and mashed, and 55 pounds of stuffing mix prepared. Cranberry sauce, green beans, corn, rolls and an assortment of desserts round out the menu.

"We will probably be overflowing with volunteers," Clipp said.

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