Group offers dinners -- and more Thanksgiving meal available at church or delivered to home

November 19, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Shepherd's Staff is expecting about 400 diners at its sixth annual Thanksgiving Day Community Dinner at St. John's Roman Catholic Church in Westminster, and volunteers expect to deliver at least 100 meals to the homebound.

The free meal has never lacked diners or volunteers to cook and serve it. About 325 went to dinner last year and the cooks prepared about 100 carryouts. Volunteers plan to deliver turkey and side dishes on Thanksgiving and they will drive anyone who needs a ride to the festivities at St. John's.

"It is not just a dinner for the needy, but for anybody who wants to share a meal in fellowship," said Kathy Brown, director of Shepherd's Staff.

The promise of free dinner delivery on Thanksgiving or transportation has generated a flurry of calls to the Christian outreach center in Westminster. More than 80 people have asked for dinner delivery.

"The delivery list is growing by the hour," Brown said. "Maybe the meal is reaching out farther than the actual place and taking the spirit of Thanksgiving out to the people who cannot physically come to us. We're taking the blessings to them."

Kathy Reid, dinner coordinator, has about 50 volunteers ready to drive meals to all areas of the county.

"We are prepared for all eventualities," Reid said.

Viva Farlow, 86, saw a notice about the dinner in the newspaper. She found her dinner was as simple as a phone call and giving directions to her home in Finksburg. Thanksgiving would be a long, lonely day for the widow whose infirmities keep her at home.

"I am able to fix meals, but a turkey dinner is just too much," said Farlow. "I don't need anything special, just what they have."

She had one more request: "If they could visit for a while. I know they want to get back to their own families, but I have no one and would really enjoy it."

Volunteers are willing to visit anyone who asks.

Thelma Berends, 80, can no longer drive. Although she lives in Westminster, arthritis and osteoporosis would make a walk to the dinner difficult. An accident has made cooking arduous for her 61-year-old daughter.

"We could probably do it, but it would be hard," said Berends.

Dinner will go to them.

"This is so nice of them," Berends said.

The meals will be delivered warm, too. Papa John's Pizza has offered the center its insulated carriers for the day.

Preparation begins Wednesday evening, when groups will set up workstations and take a final inventory. Dessert -- diners usually go through about 60 pies -- and fresh fruit donations are in short supply.

The center usually provides a take-home bag of fruit and snacks for all the diners. Unless donations increase, volunteers might have only enough bags for children.

Volunteers will provide rides for anyone who wants to come to dinner. Brown would like as many people as possible to sit down together at St. John's next week.

"The meal has always been about community and socialization," she said.

The center asks that those who need deliveries or transportation call 410-857-5944 by Monday. Those who wish to donate can call the same number. Dinner will be served from noon to 3 p.m. Thanksgiving at St. John's School cafeteria, Monroe Street, Westminster. No reservations are necessary.

Pub Date: 11/19/98

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