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Turkey gift-giving multiplies

December 12, 2010|By TRISH RUDDER | trishr@herald-mail.com
  • Members of the Church at Martinsburg (W.Va.) tag and count turkeys during the collection day around Thanksgiving. The birds were distributed throughout the community.
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — An Eastern Panhandle church got a lot more than it expected when it made a call for turkeys.

The Church at Martinsburg set a goal of collecting 200 frozen turkeys to give away to the community. Instead, donations flocked in to the tune of 309 turkeys. Pastor Jacob Atchley said this is the second time the Church at Martinsburg teamed up with Congregational Cooperative Action Project (C-CAP)/Loaves and Fishes to provide turkeys to help families celebrate Thanksgiving.

As part of Operation: Thanks, congregation members brought frozen turkeys to the drop-off place at the Regal Cinemas parking lot near the Martinsburg Mall a few days before Thanksgiving. Atchley said last year he committed to 40 turkeys and his congregation collected 120 birds.

“I had faith that God would provide,” he said.

He said by caring for the community and giving generously as Jesus did, Operation: Thanks is an example of redefining what the holiday season is about.

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“It was truly a blessing,” said Melanie Files, the former co-director of Loaves and Fishes, a nondenominational ministry that serves the community. Files said now that the Church at Martinsburg teams up with Loaves and Fishes, the worry of not getting enough donated turkeys is gone.

Church Administrator A.J. Roberts said he and his fiancee contributed eight frozen turkeys this year. Atchley said Roberts exemplified true gift-giving. He said Roberts is only 22 years old, doesn’t make a lot of money and noted that buying eight turkeys was a sacrifice for him at this time of year.

“Jesus Christ is the best example,” Atchley said. “When Jesus gets a hold of people, everything changes.”

Atchley said he and Roberts have experienced those changes, and Roberts agreed. 

Atchley said 30 of the turkeys went to Eastern Panhandle Young Lives, a local ministry that reaches out to teenage mothers, and about 70 turkeys were distributed by church members in their own communities.

“We need to focus on gift-giving food year-round,” Files said.

Loaves and Fishes supplies about 25,000 pounds of food to about 375 families a month, she said. Files said people can contact Rick Lowman, Loaves and Fishes food manager, at 304-279-0861 to find out how they can help.

The Church at Martinsburg has a congregation of about 150 members, and meets Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. at Regal Cinemas. Atchley, 30, said the church outgrew its previous meeting room at the Holiday Inn. The church got started in a living room, he said.

He said members range in age from 6 months to 63 years, and include a lot of young people with families. The church is all about helping the community, he said.

“We have people living the mission of God every day,” Atchley said.

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