Churches serve free Thanksgiving meals


David and Carmen Gwin moved from Greenfield in Hancock County to Medora in 2005.

It didn’t take them long to find a church home, David said on Sunday as he distributed free Thanksgiving meals outside Medora Christian Church.

“This is the reason we came to this church because of the benevolence of the congregation,” the 79 year old said. “They were giving the community 600 meals back 20 years ago. So we started helping in 2006.”

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Besides helping with the 31st annual Thanksgiving meal, the Gwins also operate the church’s food pantry. The pantry is open the third Thursday of each month at the church.

In 1989, the Friendship Class at the church prepared and served the first free Thanksgiving meal to members of the community.

At the time, the meal of turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry salad, hot rolls and pumpkin pie was served on Thanksgiving Day each year.

About 100 people received a free meal that day in an effort that was led by church member Mary Zollman, who thought it was important to provide free Thanksgiving meals to the less fortunate in the community, said Mary Beavers.

Beavers, who was there for the first meal and has stayed faithful to the cause for 30 years, said there were probably 15 or 20 volunteers who helped out with that first meal.

Several years later, the Thanksgiving meal was moved to the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day.

“I’m not sure when that was,” Beavers said. “It was because all of us were having Thanksgiving meals on Thanksgiving Day, so it was hard for us to be here and at home.”

She said planning for the meal begins sometime in September each year.

“We’ve got it down pat,” she said. “We know how much we need and how it’s done.”

This year’s meal required 23 turkey breasts (more than 180 pounds); nine trays of mashed potatoes; 10 trays of dressing; 17 gallons of green beans, five gallons of gravy and 25 dozen rolls, Beavers said.

“Last year we had 339 that we served so we figured off of that,” she said. “More or less. You never know with the COVID.”

More than three dozen church members showed up to prepare, box the meals and distribute the meals to those lined up in vehicles in front of the church. Others delivered the meals to those unable to make the trip to the drive-thru event at the church at 76 S. George St.

The AGAPE Workettes group organizes the event each year, Beavers said. The church provides the meat while others donate food or money.

Some of those receiving meals also donate money and those funds are saved and go toward the purchase of turkey breasts for the next year, she said.

Pearl Ann Davis, who has been a member of the church for about 55 years, provided green beans and also made a monetary donation.

“It’s a good thing,” she said as she picked up meals to deliver to her neighbors.

Amber Hackney of Medora, who attends the church with her kids, also helped out by delivering meals to the nearby communities of Sparksville and Leesville.

“I think it’s a good idea because there are a lot of people who can’t get out to pick up a meal,” she said.

Seymour Christian Church

Medora Christian Church wasn’t the only Jackson County church to distribute free Thanksgiving meals Sunday.

More than 20 Seymour Christian Church members gathered to distribute meal bags across Jackson County.

For the second year in a row, the church has prepared the bags to give to families in need. The meals included a ham and other Thanksgiving food items such as cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn and more.

Andy Schroeder, lead minister for Seymour Christian Church, said the idea for distributing meal bags came from a church in Texas where he previously worked.

He brought the tradition to Seymour Christian Church where he has been minister for three years.

“There’s about 180 Thanksgiving meals provided,” Schroeder said. “If there are any meals left over, we’re going to take them to Community Provisions (a local food pantry).”

Schroeder said the church pays for the hams, and members of the church provide the other food items.

He said one bag should provide a full meal to five or six people, and if an average family is three or four people, the church fed about 700 or 800 people in the community.

He also said there was an importance to providing meals on behalf of the church this year especially due to COVID-19.

“We’re becoming so isolated that I think it’s important for people to do something for someone else,” Schroeder said. “It’s something that we can do that’s safe. We just go to the door, knock and leave it. We just want to share the love of Christ through a meal.”

Schroeder said the congregation has been generous in preparing the meal bags with some members filling four or five bags. He said the hams are about $10 each, and the meal bag has about a $25 value for a total of $35 per bag.

Church member Ashley Moore said she feels good about providing meals to the community.

“I’ve always been blessed to have holidays with a lot of family,” she said. “Not everyone is like that so it’s special to me to be able to help someone who might not have a full house on Thanksgiving or be able to purchase all of the food a lot of us enjoy.”

While placing meal bags in her vehicle to be delivered, church member Sophi Foster said, “It’s always good to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

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What: Free curbside Thanksgiving dinners

When: 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: The Alley at First Baptist Church, 505 Community Drive, Seymour


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