Giving back: Church serves annual meal on Thanksgiving Day


Thanksgiving morning came and while many were cooking for family or traveling to see relatives, volunteers at a local congregation were preparing meals for those in need.

Five volunteers were up early and at work Thursday morning at The Alley, 416 E. Second St., in Seymour to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal.

Kitchen manager Sara Bowling, who helps organize the meal with Frances Prentice, said about 40 volunteers would be helping prepare and serve the meal.

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“We’re cooking for 200,” she said while waiting to start preparations. It is the fourth year she has helped organize it.

The meal wasn’t for family or friends, but for those who could use a meal and are typically alone during the holidays. Those who eat the meals don’t have to stay or even come to the church.

“We’re letting people come in and get them to go or for shut-ins,” she said. “Maybe someone is sick or a neighbor that can’t get out of their home.”

Volunteers have come together the last five or so years to serve the Thanksgiving Day meal.

This year, volunteers baked seven turkeys and seven hams along with traditional favorites like dressing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, corn and various desserts.

A lot of the food was donated, but the congregation of The Alley purchased some of it with the help of monetary donations.

Pam Winegarden and her husband, Richard, who were helping cut potatoes, both said volunteering for the meal is something important to them. The two are familiar faces for the annual Thanksgiving meal as well as the church’s weekday meal ministry.

“We’re very blessed, and we have what we need. We’re certainly not rich, but we have what we need and like to give back,” she said. “We enjoy working with people, and we have a lot to be thankful for.”

The couple helped make stuffing, cut potatoes and prepare the turkey, corn, gravy and other food items.

Both are members of Seymour Christian Church but extend a helping hand to an important ministry, Pam said. The couple help prepare the food, and if they’re needed to serve it, they pitch in for that, too.

“There’s been times when we haven’t walked out of here until 7 in the evening and got here at 7:30 in the morning,” she said.

Serving meals to those in need on a holiday is special, she said.

“It’s a good feeling knowing they’re going to have a hot meal,” Pam said.

The same holds true for fellow Seymour Christian Church member Vicki King, who was cutting potatoes.

“I’m so blessed in my life and I just want to help others who are less fortunate,” said King, who was helping out for the second time.

Volunteering works out well for King because her family does not get together until the day after Thanksgiving.

“I don’t have to miss anything, but this is what I want to do − help the less fortunate,” she said.

Bowling said her family has always celebrated Thanksgiving ahead of the holiday and helping at The Alley with the meal is special to her.

“I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else today,” she said. “I love to see people just have hope, joy and know someone is with them on Thanksgiving. This is my family obligation today.”

The Thanksgiving meal isn’t the only one the congregation serves as it has committed to serving meals each day as part of its ministry. Bowling said the church serves as few as 40 meals and as many as 100 meals through the week.

Bowling said the meal ministry − especially on Thanksgiving Day − is an important part of the community because it brings people together.

“It’s the most amazing thing,” she said. “There’s no place I’d rather be.”

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