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Uniontown church to share Thanksgiving meal with public

Working on homemade gravy are Lucille Colbert and her daughters, Patience Barnes and Karen Nelson, who have coordinated and managed the Thanksgiving meal at the Berean Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Uniontown since its inception.

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Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 3:44 p.m.

Reaching out to their friends and neighbors who would like to share a wonderfully cooked homemade Thanksgiving dinner, members of the Berean Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Uniontown once again are having their holiday meal and inviting the public to join in.

The meal will mark its 23rd year as a community event, which was started when church member Patience Barnes decided she wanted to celebrate the holiday in a different manner.

“I got tired of eating Thanksgiving dinner and watching football,” Barnes said. “I felt that there was more to life and more to Thanksgiving then eating and watching football all day.”

And Operation Jesus Feed was started.

The church began offering meals to anyone in the area who is homeless, unemployed, lonely, a senior citizen, low income or simply hungry, and over the years, the event has grown to where the church and the volunteers feed about 200.

“When we get here that morning, there are already people that are waiting,” volunteer Lucille Colbert said. “When we start serving, they are lined up around the corner, because we can't feed everyone at the same time.”

The event not only features a full dinner — the main entrée, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, numerous side dishes and fresh homemade pies — but a large area of the church is set up with racks of clothing, household goods and even furniture that is free to those in attendance.

“We get a lot of donations, and people from the church bring things,” volunteer Karen Nelson said. “There are people who look at what is there while they are waiting to eat.”

In addition to the meal, boxes of donated food items are given to families to take home to prepare their own Thanksgiving dinner.

“Last year, we gave out 80 boxes,” Nelson said. “My goal this year is to have 100 and have a turkey in each one.”

Nelson said she works on creating a nice table setting for each person, covering tables with a lovely fall setting complete with centerpieces.

“A lot of these people don't ever have a formal setting, and we want it to be nice for them for the dinner,” Nelson said.

“We don't want people just coming in to a bare table,” Colbert added.

The dinner is made possible by donations that are gathered throughout the year and by community contributions.

“We send out letters to the community, and churches in the area also help us get the word out,” Barnes said, adding that those who attend the meal are asked to sign a guest book to receive an invitation reminder for the meal the following year. “We see some of the same people and families year after year, but we always see some new people who join us.”

The meal is prepared and served by members of the church and other volunteers, with about 50 who turn out every year to help with the festive meal.

“It's a lot of work, but it is very rewarding,” Colbert said.

The Thanksgiving meal will be served from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday in the church, 95 Searight Ave.

The meal is free, but free-will donations will be accepted.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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