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'Turkey and a little bit of home'
Free Thanksgiving meals going strong
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Sarah Davis serves the first plates to people waiting to eat Thanksgiving dinner at Bassett Memorial United Methodist Church on Thursday. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
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Friday, November 23, 2012

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

For the past 25 years or so, Bassett Memorial United Methodist Church has been offering “turkey and a little bit of home” to area residents on Thanksgiving.

That is how the church’s pastor, the Rev. Russ Gresham, described the meal that was served Thursday.

“We know so many don’t have the means for a Thanksgiving meal,” he said. This meal provides food, fellowship and makes “the holiday brighter,” he added.

Jesus commanded his followers to help those in need, Gresham said.

Meryl Bullard, the church music director who was in charge of the meal, said she expected to serve 250-300 people: 100-110 eat-in, and the rest takeout.

The menu included turkey, gravy, dressing, green beans, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, roll, cranberry sauce and dessert (mostly pumpkin or sweet potato pies), Bullard said.

Takeout orders were ready for people to pick up starting about 11 a.m., and an eat-in meal was scheduled to begin about noon.

About 11:30 a.m., dozens of people already were sitting at tables in the dining room.

Virginia Coleman, 75, of Bassett, and several members of her family were at one of the tables. Coleman said she is not able to cook, and her son, Leon Tabor, added that some people can’t afford to buy all the food to have a family Thanksgiving meal.

Corrie Myall, Tabor’s stepdaughter, said the meal is a way for elderly people whose family members have moved away to be around other people on Thanksgiving.

Like Gresham, Bullard referred to Jesus when she discussed the history of the church’s community Thanksgiving meal. Last year, volunteers prepared enough food for about 350 people but ended up serving at least 425. Bullard said she believes God didn’t let the food run out, just as Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 men plus women and children.

Bullard estimated the church’s community Thanksgiving meal began about 25 years ago.

Members of the church and others donated about $500 to $600 to buy the food for this year’s meal, and about 35 volunteers prepared and serve the food.

Bullard, helped by four or five other volunteers, cooked from about 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday. She was back at it about 6 a.m. Thursday.

When asked why Bassett Memorial UMC’s community Thanksgiving meal is one of the few, or only, ones left in this area, Bullard said, “We all think it’s a need.”

Volunteer Roxann Dillon added, “It’s because of her,” patting Bullard on the shoulders.

In the dining room, volunteer Ginnie Barker of Peoria, Ill, was pouring cups of soft drinks. She is a volunteer at Philpott Lake and doesn’t have family in this area. She said it was wonderful to be with other people on Thanksgiving.

“It makes you thankful,” she said, adding that some of the people at the meal are elderly and disabled.

Volunteer Betsy Mattox, Reed Creek District representative on the Henry County School Board, said the event gives people the opportunity to have a good meal and fellowship at a time when it is difficult financially for some people to buy all the food that was provided Thursday.

The church also puts on a community meal on the fourth Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. Anyone who would like to attend is asked to call 629-2869 and leave a message.


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