People lined up early for meal

First Posted: 11/26/2009

The meal wasnt supposed to be served until 12 p.m. Thursday, but those in need of a warm Thanksgiving dinner started lining up at 10:30 a.m. and by 2:45 p.m., all the food was gone and the clean-up began.
Melva Houston, who has been hosting the meal at First Baptist Church for the past 13 years along with a group called Friends of a Brighter Community, was surprised at how fast the food went. Typically the meal is served until 5 p.m., but by 3:30 p.m. clean-up was almost finished.
Houston said 375 meals were served by 24 volunteers. This year, Houston was able to use the commercial kitchen at Elliotts to prepare the meal on Wednesday. She said that helped out tremendously because people showed up so much earlier this year.
We ran out of everything. People came and they sure enough ate, Houston said.
Ben Burgess started volunteering when he was only 4-years-old. His mom, dad and sister have been volunteering for the meal since they moved to the area about 10 years ago. He and his sister, Hannah, made 48 cupcakes for the meal, which they said were gobbled up in record time.
People brought desserts and even clothes to give away. I heard a lot of people already talking about getting ready for next year, said Hannah Burgess.
Her mother, Patty, and father, Tim, said volunteering at the community meal is how they celebrate Thanksgiving every year.
My kids dont really remember it being any other way. It means a lot to us. It truly is a blessing. This is what my kids think Thanksgiving is all about, Patty Burgess said.
Ginger Jones has been volunteering at the meal on and off for the past 10 years. She said sometimes she has to work and cant go, but was glad she was able to be there this year.
Its a blessing. This is so wonderful. Melva and her group have been doing this for the last 13 years. Its a real privilege to come here and work with them. We are family here, Jones said. People need to give thanks every day.
Lynwood Jones and his wife, Larena, have been volunteering at the meal for the past two years. He said two people came when all the food was gone, but that didnt stop Houston from finding a way to make sure they went home with food.
I had to step outside because it brought a tear to my eye to see how much she cares, said Lynwood Jones.
Houston wanted to especially thank Jerry Venable who came and played piano during the meal, and Tim Elliott for donating food, his kitchen and his chef for the meal this year.
This has been so wonderful. I would like to thank all of the volunteers who came out today. This has been a blessing for me, Houston said.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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