Serving up comfort

Some people cheer over football games on Thanksgiving Day. But at Columbus Baptist Church, volunteers cheered boxes of to-go turkey meals being hauled out the door every 20 minutes.

Drivers delivered about 470 holiday dinners with all the fixings to locales from as far south as Jonesville and as far north as Edinburgh around lunchtime and served a total of 585 people, including those who ate inside the small church on U.S. 31.

First-time volunteer Debbie Barrett, who helped put food into the to-go boxes, was impressed with the organization and efficiency.

“This is obviously a well-oiled machine,” Barrett said. “They have this down to a real art.”

Volunteer drivers, including FedEx employees in company trucks, delivered 325 meals at First Christian Church’s Thanksgiving meal, up significantly compared to a year ago, organizer Diane Doup said. She works with the local Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, which partnered with the First Christian along with FedEx and NTN Driveshaft to put on the meal, which attracted 354 diners to the church.

Some of the diners who partake in the meals might have hit hard times. But the sites and deliveries are for anyone who needs a place to go or who wants the fellowship and company of others on a day when it can be tough to be alone.

Fred Holtzlider, who lives alone in a local assisted living facility, made his first visit to Columbus Baptist’s event billed as Feed the Flock. He said he loved the food. Besides the main course, it included green beans, stuffing, mashed potatoes and other selections.

“I like everything about it,” Holtzlider said. “If I was home, I’d probably be opening some cans and cooking some meat.”

He pronounced the meal tasty and convenient, with the atmosphere running over with kindness. Columbus Baptist members stretched that kindness all over. For example, the Rev. Charles Kennedy, delivered several meals, with a healthy dose of prayer before leaving, to a family in the intensive care waiting room of Columbus Regional Hospital.

At First Christian, Nancy Lewis opened the meal with a brief prayer punctuated by a silence for diners to add their personal touch.

“You know the blessings in your life,” Lewis told about 150 gathered at the beginning. “He (God) wants to hear your heart and your voice today.”

Diner Doug Taylor said he has attended for several years now.

“It’s just kind of nice to be around other people,” Taylor said. “And they do a really good job with all this.”

Besides the food, a Pilgrim-bedecked Ginny Gilbert and 9-year-old Arlynn Fleming, dressed in full Native American garb, helped youngsters make hand-shaped turkey crafts. Nearby, husband Alan Gilbert, dressed as John Quincy Adams with a white pony-tailed wig, helped distribute drinks as diners came through the serving line.

“This is a nice group,” he said, as the room’s 174 seats filled with people.

Bobbie Jo Wogomon, who just moved from Ohio to Columbus with her family four months ago, said she was glad to be able to volunteer to pour drinks. At their previous home, family members volunteered frequently at outreaches for the struggling and homeless.

“This is very rewarding,” she said.

Those in attendance at each meal seemed truly grateful for the food and hospitality, which was as sweet as the pumpkin pie. When a visitor asked First Christian diner Hershell Asbury if he wondered why churches would go to all this trouble for such elaborate meals, he hardly paused to replay.

“I think that this,” Asbury said, “is what God told them to do.”

By the numbers

325: First Christian Church meals delivered

470: Columbus Baptist Church meals delivered

585: Total Columbus Baptist meals

679: Total First Christian meals

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.