Seven nonprofit organizations and churches across Garland County plan to serve Thanksgiving meals to those in need of a holiday meal, with a few venues offering transportation and delivery services.
This is the 11th year community advocate Janice Davis has organized a Thanksgiving meal geared toward serving seniors and the homeless. "A Thanksgiving to Share" will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at Visitor's Chapel AME Church, 319 Church St.
"It all started because I was actually going to be alone on Thanksgiving for the first time since my son was born," Davis said. "I got to thinking about the other people that would be alone during the holiday season, specifically the elderly. After a few phone calls to some friends, I had organized a Thanksgiving meal that served 52 people."
Davis' event is funded and operated entirely by individuals who believe in her cause. People throughout the community, from all walks of life, congregate each year at the church to make the event possible. In the past 10 years, they have served over 2,000 patrons, a news release said.
Their reach extends far beyond a Thanksgiving meal; they also offer a section for winter clothing items and nonperishable foods that visitors may take with them after the meal. Faith and community outreach, as well as vocational support, are also available to those interested.
Last year, Davis served over 900 plates of food, but noted that this year her goal is not to achieve a set number, but a certain atmosphere. Many of her meals are delivered to people that either do not have transportation or prefer to eat alone. This year, she plans on offering a shuttle service made possible by LakePointe Church, Visitor's Chapel AME Church and individual volunteers.
"I want people to come and eat like it's their house," said Davis. "It would warm my heart to see the auditorium filled with people taking in the good food and even better fellowship."
The Salvation Army, 115 Crescent Ave., will offer a meal Wednesday evening, beginning at 5 p.m. and running until 6:30 p.m. The meal is made possible through volunteers of The Salvation Army and their partners throughout the community.
"There are so many people in our area that are homeless and have no place to go. We want to offer a sense of home while people enjoy their meal," Salvation Army Lieutenant Stephanie Hargis said.
In addition to a traditional meal, they will offer free sweaters to anyone in need, and have a craft section set up for any children that come to the event.
A second meal, with just sandwiches, will be served from 5 to 6 p.m. Friday at The Salvation Army.
Other annual meals include the one offered by Grand Avenue United Methodist Church, 841 Quapaw Ave. It will begin serving food at 11 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
First Presbyterian Church, 213 Whittington Ave, will serve meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and offer complementary transportation for those unable to attend otherwise. Transportation can be arranged by calling 624-5646.
Samaritan Ministries Rescue Mission, 131 Sanford, will serve their meals from noon to 1 p.m. Friday.
VFW Post 2278, the Auxiliary and Disabled American Veterans will host their Thanksgiving event from 1 to 3 p.m. at the post, located at 2231 E. Grand Ave. The public is welcome, and those able to bring a side dish or dessert are asked to do so. Call 623-5190 for more information.
Gospel Light Church, 600 Garland, plans to serve meals between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday. Delivery is available by calling 624-5288 before 10:30 a.m., and walk-ins are welcome beginning at 10 a.m.
This year Gospel Light has teamed up with two other churches in the area, Christian Ministries, 548 Brookhill Ranch Road, and First Church of the Nazarene, 3804 Central Ave. Church representatives say they hope that the partnership will allow them to serve a larger portion of the community.
"We are planning on serving about 2,000 meals. As of Friday we have already received 1,300 requests for meals from the community," Gospel Light Church secretary Carie Cuneio said.
"This is a big community event where churches can come together and share the love of Christ," she said.Local on 11/19/2017
Print Headline: Groups offer free meals for Thanksgiving