Published Friday, November 23, 2012
By W. WINSTON SKINNER
Volunteers from Community Christian Church served up turkey and all the trimmings on Thursday.
Perhaps the most important ingredient in their Thanksgiving dinner outreach, however, was community.
"When we started it about 10 years ago, we started it as a 'feed the impoverished' type of event," John Martin, the church's director of outreach, reflected. What the church discovered was that the people who most needed a meal often had insurmountable barriers to getting one.
"The majority of the people who really, truly need the meal, they don't have a way to get to the location," Martin observed. Church members solved that problem by volunteering to deliver meals – a big part of Community Christian's Thanksgiving undertaking this year.
The serving of the shared meals, however, continues and resonates with meaning both for volunteers and participants. This year plates were served at both Newnan High School and Arnco-Sargent Elementary School.
Many who made their way to one of the schools were "people who just want to be around people on Thanksgiving," Martin said. "That's typically who you're going to end up seeing."
The Thanksgiving meal has emerged as "a way for us to reach out" – to show people throughout Coweta County "the church cares for them," Martin said.
"Our ultimate motivation is not to get more people to come to Community Christian. Our goal is to let them know that we care about them," Martin reflected.
Martin said "about 450" volunteers were involved in making the Thanksgiving dinner happen this year. The work began Monday with "people sorting clothing" for a clothes giveaway held at both schools.
There also were "people pulling meat off turkeys" and "people preparing the casseroles," Martin said.
Preparations continued Wednesday. On Thursday, people served at both locations. "A majority of the people (volunteering) actually deliver" meals, Martin said.
Several other churches — First Baptist Church in Moreland, Powell Chapel United Methodist Church, Agape Christian Center and Greater Mt. Zion AME Church also offered Thanksgiving meals during the past few days.
Coweta congregations are now turning their attention toward Advent and Christmas. Providence Baptist Church on Providence Church Road will be decorating the church for Christmas at 9 a.m. Saturday. Allen-Lee Memorial United Methodist Church in Lone Oak will be decorating following the 11 a.m. service Sunday.
Christmas outreach programs are also under way. Perpetual Community Resource Centre on Salbide Avenue is coordinating a coat and blanket drive through Dec. 3. For information, call 678-634-6232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Kimberly Monroe, PCRC executive director, said many local residents "will be without the basic resources needed to keep warm and healthy" this winter unless others in the community reach out to help."You can make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate by giving the gift of warmth," she said.