Community celebrates Thanksgiving with service


Staff at the First Presbyterian Church in Chipley started delivering thanksgiving meals to community members in the seventies.

And reaching the 50-year plateau gave reason for organizers to celebrate during a ceremony before the dinner, when they honored longtime supporters, volunteers and businesses that have played a large role throughout the years.

Woodson said she works long hours in Strasburg at the Hotel Strasburg and her parents live in Fairfax.

About 315 volunteers assisted with serving the meals to the hundreds who showed up at Ag Hall.

Of course it's a lot of work Calder said, but it only takes one for her to keep her motivation to do it another year.

"I was at my bottom of the bottom and now I just love giving back to the community", Rickey Jennings from Breaking Bonds said.

Peterson says the volunteers who had been in charge of the meal for more than two decades made a decision to hand off the responsibility, but no one was able to step up to the task.

Elder, Kevin Russell, says he's been volunteering for this event since he was a little boy, and he wouldn't do thanksgiving any other way. "This is what Thanksgiving is for my family", said Keenan Davis.

Holy Trinity Church, which sits on Capitol Avenue not far from a number of homeless shelters, has opened its doors every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter for the past four years.

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"It is important because so many folks need a place to go", he said. "It's always good to give other people a helping hand".

"I was born on Thanksgiving", Bates said, "so this is how I get my Thanksgiving celebration". They don't just serve at the church, but take meals out into the community. "Every day, they have to stand in line just to be insulted, pretty much".

Matt Crawford said he has been volunteering for the event for the last five years. This year, the shelter and resources at the center are what she is most thankful for. They'll do anything for the people in the community.

"Anyone is welcome, people who need a good meal, people who are kind of lonely on the holidays who don't have people to gather with", said Larry Levine, with Kiwanis about the event.

"We really enjoy it", he said.

"This tradition we've formed extends far beyond serving the community".

Housel never counted the number, but estimated that about 30 volunteers had been at the church Wednesday night to help prepare for the meal and set up.

"We're very hopeful that it will come back", Peterson said.