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Churches, veterans to serve free Thanksgiving meals

CityChurch of Connellsville’s planning team for the Thanksgiving Day dinner are (front, from left) Cheryl Leyda, Kyah Darrell, Chelsie Fike, Debbie Gordon, Angie Black, Brenda Siple, Janis Higbee (event coordinator), Lori Echard, Kathy Thayer, Jackie Higbee (holding daughter Estelle); (middle) Terry Pernick, Sarah Pernick, Jill Wiltrout, Tish Tucholski, Joyce Angelo, Donna Nicholson, Nicole Jensen, Breanna Tucholski; (back) Debbie Eutsey, Angie Darrell, Crystal Britt, Kenny Leyda, Brian Higbee, Joey Hollowood and Jen Metzger. Submitted nov 2012

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Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 1:21 a.m.

Thanksgiving is the time to share a meal with friends and loved ones, but for many who are alone, have fallen on hard times or simply don't want to prepare a huge meal, area groups are more than delighted to do the cooking.

• Volunteers from CityChurch of Connellsville and other churches in the area are coming together once again to prepare a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. They invite those in the area to dine and share a meal with them from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

The meal is made possible by Connellsville Area Ministerial Association and will be served at the Connellsville Senior Citizens Center. Transportation and delivery of meals also can be arranged.

“Jesus said that to be great, one does not need be the brightest, the richest, the most popular, or even the best looking,” CityChurch Pastor Brian Higbee said. “Many have no one to celebrate this holiday. ... No family, no friends. So we simply provide the food, and the making of family and friends happens automatically.

“CityChurch gets revved up for this, as do all the churches that get involved,” he said. “It is one of our favorite ways we serve.”

The meal preparation will begin on Thursday with about 100 volunteers from CityChurch and the other 15 participating churches cooking, serving and cleaning up for the expected 500 meals that will be prepared.

Volunteers are welcome to join in the festive event.

“You don't have to be part of a church to get involved. Just let us know where you want to help,” Higbee said. “Food donations, food prep team, serving, greeting, delivery, picking people up and taking them home, hosting — however you want to serve, we have a place for you.

For information, call the church before 4 p.m. Wednesday at 724-628-0700.

• Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 822 W. Main St., will serve its festive, holiday dinner from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Church members and volunteers from the community who will come together to prepare and serve the meals.

“We will be preparing 150 to 200 meals this year,” church secretary Sandy Santmyer said. “We'll have plenty of great food for everyone.”

The event will include some light musical entertainment and fellowship.

“A lot of people have had a very trying time over the past year and may not want to cook or have no one to share their meal with,” Santmyer said. “We invite them here to give thanks and to talk to people, to socialize if they like.”

Short-distance transportation can be arranged for those who cannot make the trip alone.

“We like people to come and have a great meal, then sit and talk if they like,” Santmyer said. “This is a wonderful group effort from the whole community.”

Santymer said they can use some volunteers.

“We need volunteers to help with preparation and anything that they may want to do.”

For information or to volunteer, call the church at 724-547-5941.

• Members of the Mt. Pleasant National Guard Armory will roll up their sleeves again this year as they prepare about 30 turkeys and all the fixings to be delivered to the elderly, shut-ins or people who may not be able to celebrate a holiday meal.

In each of more than 20 years, the veterans, joined by community members and students, have cooked and prepared approximately 350 meals, most of which are delivered all over the area.

“We do have a few who come here for a meal, but most of them we deliver,” Maj. Richard Collage said. “We have a pretty big delivery area; we don't want anyone to go without a meal.”

The veterans will begin cooking Thanksgiving Eve, then pack up the meals to be delivered, starting about 11 a.m., on Thanksgiving Day. Those who want to eat at the armory can join them from noon to 1:30 p.m.

“This is a good way for us to give back to our community,” Collage said. “We are visible in the community, and we see first-hand that there are many who are struggling or would who not have a meal otherwise, and this is just something that we can do. This is our way to help out in our community.”

For general information or to request meal delivery, call the armory at 724-542-0306.

All meals from each of the groups are free.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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