Bridge of Life community dinner satisfies more than just hunger

December 24, 2011|By DON AINES |
  • Matteo Wills is a bit distracted Saturday at the community dinner sponsored by the Bridge of Life church in downtown Hagerstown as his mom, Angi Shoop, offers another mouthful of mashed potatoes.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — One man at the Bridge of Life community dinner on Christmas Eve described his holiday situation this way:

“I’m right next to homeless and hungry,” said the man, who declined to give his name.

He went on to say he has been out of prison for six months, and times on the outside have been tough.

The hungry part was satisfied, at least for the time, for that man and about 200 other men, women and children who showed up at the church for turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and other trimmings, and plentiful desserts.

“Last year we served 200 people and we’re prepared to serve at least that many,” said Cerey Bere, who organized the event with her husband, Kevin.

It began three years ago with a Thanksgiving meal, but the church at 6 S. Potomac St. in downtown Hagerstown moved it to Christmas Eve last year, she said.

Twenty minutes into the dinner, there were already about 80 people either seated or in line.

Bere was fielding a lot of questions from volunteers.

“Organized chaos,” she said.

About 15 volunteers were cooking and serving the meals, Bere said.

The food was donated by members of the congregation.

People came in individually, by groups and as families for the meal.
Some were congregation members.

“We come to church here, we donated food and my son’s in the Christmas program afterwards,” said Angi Shoop, accompanied by her children Malachi and Matteo, and her fiancé, Michael Wills.

“I’m here just to be around happy people and eat a joyful meal around Christmas time,” said Troy High.

The dinner began as a way to reach out to the community, Bere said.

Bridge of Life does a lot of community outreach, including free movie nights every other Saturday, she said.

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