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Fellowship is a key item on Smithsburg church Thanksgiving menu

November 26, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

SMITHSBURG -- At Trinity Lutheran Church in Smithsburg's free Thanksgiving dinner for the community, some volunteers greeted guests, some helped in the kitchen, and some served food and cleared plates.

Meanwhile, McKenzie Benson, 15, made her way around to tables simply to talk to the guests.

"I know a lot of the people, and I know a lot of them don't have family," she said. "They need people to talk to."

Benson said her goal was to make sure everyone had a good time at the dinner and felt welcome and comfortable.

"I want everyone to feel like they can come back," she said.

Benson said her family eats its Thanksgiving dinner later in the day to make time to volunteer at the church.

"I think it's a good experience because it helps you with your social skills, and you're making someone's day," she said.

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Leigh Zahm, who coordinated the dinner, said it wasn't as much about the food as it was about the fellowship, for both guests and volunteers.

The church had at least 50 volunteers, counting those who cooked but could not be there for the dinner itself, Zahm said. In addition to volunteers from the congregation, several students from Smithsburg High School helped out as a community service project, he said. Zahm said he didn't turn away anyone who wanted to volunteer, and volunteers were welcome to do whatever they were interested in doing, whether that was cooking, planning or helping with the actual event.

"It's really God working through people," he said.

For example, one man called the church three times wanting to help out. The man had lost his wife a few years before and wanted to fill that void by serving others, Zahm said.

The church cooked about 10 turkeys and also served green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, sauerkraut and pumpkin pie, Zahm said.

He said he knows many people in the congregation are struggling with problems such as unemployment or medical issues and he hoped the dinner would be a chance for those people to set their struggles aside.

In addition to serving people at the church, Trinity Lutheran also delivered Thanksgiving dinners to about 15 congregation members who could not leave their homes, he said.

Zahm said he hopes to expand that element of the dinner in future years by reaching out to other churches to identify more people who could use delivered meals.

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