Serving a helping of love: Thanksgiving Day meals set at two churches Nov. 28

Volunteers at First Baptist Church fill trays for meal deliveries last year  Submitted

On each Thanksgiving Day for the past several years, the Rev. Charles Kennedy realizes one thing that saddens him yet motivates him to extend God’s love to others on the holiday.

“Again and again, I am astounded that so very many of our senior citizens eat their meals alone (even on Thanksgiving),” said Kennedy, pastor of Columbus Baptist Church. “So it’s good for us to be able sometimes to sit down with some of them for a little bit.”

Members of Columbus Baptist and other community volunteers who help the church have fed more than 800 people annually on Thanksgiving for quite a few years now at its Feed the Flock free meal. Turkey and trimmings are served both at the church at 4821 N. U.S. 31 and via home-delivered meals, which is how Kennedy has met so many of the solitary seniors, which tugs at his heart.

Columbus Baptist and First Christian Church at 516 Fifth St. in downtown Columbus will again open doors and hearts to those without the means to prepare a meal, those with nowhere to go for a holiday meal or perhaps those who don’t want to eat alone. Organizers always have stressed that the meals have nothing to do financial means.

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A variety of businesses such as NTN Driveshaft and Taylor Brothers Construction, plus private and other donations cover the cost of the meals from year to year, organizers say.

One change this year at Columbus Baptist is that organizers are requesting that anyone planning to eat, even dine-in visitors, call one of three phone numbers by Nov. 25 to make a reservation since organizers ran out of turkey last year near the end of the gathering. Previously, only those wanting delivered meals would make a reservation.

“We’re just trying to take out more of the unknowns out of the equation,” Kennedy said, so organizers can plan better.

For the First Christian meal, Kramer’s Restaurant is preparing the turkeys for about 600 people total, according to organizers.

“I always love to see how the community comes together for this,” said Nancy Lewis, First Christian’s Connections Minister who is overseeing some of the planning of the meal, along with others such as those at Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center in downtown Columbus. “We get to host it. But the partnerships are much broader than just us. Everyone takes very much a teamwork approach.”

Lewis takes special pains to point out the behind-the-scenes work of Diane Doup for the event with the neighborhood center.

“In my mind, she’s still the glue holding all this together.”

Lewis also added that the work of the meal’s kitchen leader Julie Zeigler has been invaluable. Zeigler has been among the main volunteers for the past 22 years. This year, she’s working alongside Roxanne Stillabower to turn over those duties to her.

Plus, area school children pitch in to make placemats for the meal.

But Lewis pointed out that, in some ways, the actual meal itself is something of a backdrop for a broader purpose.

“Really, it all comes down to connections,” Lewis said.

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At Columbus Baptist Church

Where: 4821 N. U.S. 31 on the northern edge of Columbus

When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 28

For reservations for dine-in or delivery: 812-371-1400; 812-314-9767; or 812-418-8213 by Nov. 25.

At First Christian Church

Where: 516 Fifth St. in downtown Columbus.

When: 12:30 to 2 p.m. Nov. 28

For reservations for delivery only: 812-379-4491 by Nov. 25.