Tasters’ choice: To help children
by Eddie Burkhalter
eburkhalter@annistonstar.com
Jun 04, 2012 | 3281 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There were, of course, scrumptious desserts at the annual International Tasters’ Feast, a charity benefit. It was held Sunday at the Bridge, a community gathering place located on 15th Street, alongside the back parking lot of First United Methodist Church. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
There were, of course, scrumptious desserts at the annual International Tasters’ Feast, a charity benefit. It was held Sunday at the Bridge, a community gathering place located on 15th Street, alongside the back parking lot of First United Methodist Church. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
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Plates full of good things to eat circled the gymnasium inside The Bridge on Noble Street Sunday. The 26th annual International Tasters’ Feast drew a large crowd this year, and organizers said it couldn’t have come at a better time.

All proceeds from the event are bound for the Sable Learning Center — a Hobson City after-school and summer program — and to the Anniston nonprofit which operates the center, Community Enabler Developer.

Maudine Holloway, director of Community Enabler Developer, walked among the tables filled with cuisines from across the globe, stopping every so often to gratefully hug someone for taking part in the event. It’s the single largest fundraiser of the year for the nonprofit.

The center’s after-school program serves around 20 kids during the school year, but in the summer close to 50 children spend much of their day at the center, receiving educational instruction, snacks and a lunch.

“And if I had more money to hire more people to work I could have more kids,” Holloway said.

Three years ago, the center found itself in the dead of winter, struggling to find cash to replace two malfunctioning heaters to keep the kids warm.

Last year, a reduction in federal funding meant the nonprofit couldn’t help pay school fees for the children it serves.

Additionally, last year the center couldn’t afford to pay for Internet service and so the computer room currently sits empty most days, Holloway said.

So each full plate Sunday meant that more kids would get the help they need, and for Ken Bailey, pastor of Pelham Baptist Church and president of the board of Community Enabler Developer, it was a good thing to see.

“We have more people that are homeless, more people that have lost jobs. They need food. Especially food and clothing,” Bailey said, standing aside his church’s table covered with plates of Vietnamese egg rolls and crawfish pie.

“We help a lot of people but there’s more that need it,” Bailey said.

Pastor Vickie Folks from the Mission Church of God by Faith came not to eat but to judge. Folks said there were three prizes for the top three tables — she was to judge the tables on theme, presentation and the food itself — but nobody really knew what the prizes were and it didn’t seem to matter.

It was about the kids, and that’s something Folks knows all about. She has worked at the Sable Learning Center since it began in 1988.

“Whatever they need, that’s what we try and provide,” Folks said of the children she’s spent more than two decades helping.

“They are a handful, but they are very optimistic in learning. They want to learn, and that’s what we want them to do,” Folks said. “It’s very worth it.”

Star staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563 or on Twitter @burkhalter_star.

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