Volunteers provide Thanksgiving dinners for 500 families
by Rachael Griffin
Nov 18, 2012 | 5915 views |  0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Volunteers help pass put donated Thanksgiving meal packs on Sunday at the Carver Community Center.
Volunteers help pass put donated Thanksgiving meal packs on Sunday at the Carver Community Center.
The gymnasium of the Carver Community Center was standing room only Sunday afternoon, as more than 500 families listened intently to a worship service before picking up donated Thanksgiving meals, courtesy of Renovation Ministries and 16 churches throughout Alabama.

This was the third year Renovation Ministries and its founder and director Chris Terrell have provided Thanksgiving meals for those less fortunate. This year, Terrell decided to expand the program from feeding 300 families to 500. Making that possible were $13,000 in donations and several churches contributing specific food items, as well as their time.

“It’s a way for all walks of life to come together with an attitude of generosity and gratitude,” Terrell said.

Beginning in October, families could register for their meals with Community Enabler. Families who met the income requirements received vouchers to collect a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, milk and eggs. It’s important for these families to be able to cook a Thanksgiving meal in their own homes, said Holly Robinson, one of the volunteers with Renovation Ministries. That’s why volunteers provided everything it takes to make a Thanksgiving feast, right down to the butter. Volunteers helped recipients carry heavy brown paper bags filled with food to cars or nearby homes.

Mayor Vaughn Stewart was at the community center to thank volunteers for their time and efforts. He said he was impressed by the number of volunteers and the amount of food they collected.

“A lot of those people in that gymnasium would not have a Thanksgiving dinner but for this … This is what a community does, they come together and not just for holidays, but year round,” Stewart said.

For Selma residents Daryl and Shannon Whitaker the food giveaway was a chance to teach their three daughters how important it is to give back to a community.

“We wanted our kids to experience what true Thanksgiving is about.” Shannon Whitaker said.

The Whitaker family helped collect 500 boxes of potatoes to donate through the Crosspoint Christian Church in Selma. They and another family from their church drove to Anniston to help hand out food.

The First Baptist Church in Weaver had more than 30 volunteers at the community center to help.

“Some are handing out food, some are walking food out to cars and praying for people who need prayers,” said Jordan Barkley, a Weaver volunteer.

Barkley said he sees these acts of kindness as an uplifting message for everyone in the community.

“It sends a positive message that local churches care and want everybody to have a happy Thanksgiving,” Barkley said.

For Pastor Chris Spurlin of the Lakeview Baptist Church in Oxford, Sunday was a day to be proud and thankful for what his congregation accomplished. He announced his goal of collecting 500 cans of corn for donation several weeks ago and the Lakeview congregation went above and beyond his expectations by collecting 1,100 cans.

“It’s great to see the love of my church and God’s power at work,” Spurlin said.

As families walked into the room lined with tables full of food, many expressed their gratitude to volunteers. The rustle of cans being placed into bags and people wishing one another “happy Thanksgiving” filled the air.

Without donations, a traditional Thanksgiving might not be possible for families like Brenda Ervin’s, of Oxford. Feeding her eight-person household a Thanksgiving meal she could be proud of was tough to picture in this economy. She’s grateful to the volunteers for allowing her to enjoy the holiday with loved ones.

“I always look forward to spending time with my family for Thanksgiving … this is a big help. God is always there,” Ervin said.

Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.

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