Goodwill event offers holiday meal and a ray of hope to 3,000 people

Annual dinner, job fair draws 275 volunteers

November 22, 2001|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Thousands of people poured into the Baltimore Convention Center yesterday afternoon for a day-before-Thanksgiving feast that for some might be their only taste of holiday turkey.

Goodwill Industries held its 46th annual dinner, with 275 volunteers serving turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans and sweet potato pie to an estimated 3,000 people.

Besides the dinner, Goodwill held a job fair with representatives from more than 20 local service agencies and employers, including Maryland Job Service, Bon Secours Family Support Center and Wackenhut Security.

Some who showed up were dazed, rocking back and forth with their eyes half-closed. Others, not as down on their luck, arrived looking for a job and a hot meal for their children.

Christine Megginson, 19, held her 2-year-old son on her lap as she ate. She said she was looking for a job as a nurse.

"I'm certified," she said. "I came to the job fair last year and enrolled in the nursing program."

Michael Pollard, 48, who went through Goodwill job training in 1995 when he was unemployed, returned to volunteer by serving food. He is an assistant executive housekeeper at the Hilton in Pikesville.

"I was on my last leg and I didn't know what to do," Pollard said. "Goodwill took me in and taught me basic skills."

He said returning to the annual Thanksgiving dinner makes him feel lucky, especially when he sees people whose situations are similar to his in 1995. He proudly hands out his card to all who ask and tells them he'll help them if he can.

Sometimes, he said, it's the smallest gestures that make people grateful.

"I gave a spoon and a fork to a gentleman so he could eat," Pollard said. "He hugged me and said, `Thank you, sir, for the meal.' That made me feel so good."

Clarice Darden, 38, who attended more for the meal than for the job fair yesterday, was telling others where they could get another meal today.

"I have friends going to Big Daddy's," said Darden, misspeaking the name of homeless activist Bea Gaddy, who died in October and was known for serving Thanksgiving meals. The Bea Gaddy Family Center is holding a dinner at Dunbar Middle School in her honor.

Someone walking by corrected Darden.

"I mean Bea Gaddy," Darden said. "I call her Big Daddy. We're going to celebrate Big Daddy and respect her wishes because she's gone."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.