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Garden City United Methodist offers option on Thanksgiving

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Sherry Reid has collected dinner guests for years, even before she was appointed head organizer of Garden City United Methodist Church's annual Thanksgiving dinner.

It started more than 20 years ago on Christmas Eve, when Reid worked as a bartender at the Wooden Nickel.

“I had a half a dozen people who had nowhere to go, so I'd take them home,” she said.

Word spread, and soon the number of guests at holiday dinners was exceeding the space in her dining room.

“It got to the point that I couldn't afford it anymore,” Reid said, laughing.

So she relocated her guests to the annual community meal at the church. She made a few suggestions to expedite the dinner service and was appointed head organizer, said her husband, Dick Reid.

“As a new member (of the church) she said, ‘I'll help with the Thanksgiving dinner,' ” Dick Reid said.

“Well, she has a former restaurant background … so she was in charge from then on.”

Over the last 23 years that Sherry Reid has run the dinner, the average number of guests has grown to 65, and more than 40 people volunteer each year. Dinner guests typically are from varied backgrounds and age groups, including senior citizens whose children have moved away and single parents without the means to provide a traditional Thanksgiving celebration for their children, organizers said.

Rev Scott L.F. Gallagher, who recently was hired at the church, said he and his family will attend this year for the first time. Community meals on the holidays have become the norm for his family, he said.

“My kids don't know any other way to have Thanksgiving except in a community setting,” Gallagher said.

Monroeville resident Karen Reinhard said she attends annually with family and makes a donation to the church each year, though she is not a member.

The dinner is a nice option at a time in life when hosting a party at home is too much, Reinhard said.

“I can't do it anymore,” she said. “And if I know of a person that can't do it anymore, I tell them about the dinner, and they go.”

The meal draws people from Monroeville and beyond, Dick Reid said.

“It's not just a Garden City thing,” he said. “It's always been handled as an outreach.”

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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