Volunteers deliver nearly 3,000 holiday meals

Area volunteers, boosted by donations of time energy and money from individuals, businesses and nonprofits, delivered 2,731 homemade Thanksgiving meals over three different days recently in Columbus.

Columbus Baptist Church, which has become the busiest volunteer outlet on the holiday, delivered 975 servings of turkey and trimmings as part of its Feed the Flock outreach.

“All the glory goes to the Lord,” said Pastor Chuck Kennedy of the church.

At First Christian Church, 100 volunteers prepared and delivered 757 meals on Thanksgiving Day. Those were made possible partially by the support of Taylor Brothers Construction/The Harmon Group’s The Joy of Giving program, which also supported the Thanksgiving meals delivered Nov. 18 by the America and Roby Anderson Community Center.

“We are full of joy,” Doup said.

At Sandy Hook United Methodist Church, Sarah Humphrey and nearly 200 volunteers with her More Than a Meal outreach prepared and delivered 599 meals in the church kitchen the day before Thanksgiving. That marks considerable growth since her first year in 2020 marked by about 150 meals.

Volunteers cooked 66 turkeys. Organizers are considering using smokers for the turkeys in future years.

“And I’m still learning to be even better at marketing,” Humphrey said. “There’s obviously a real need for the meals.”

At the America and Roby Anderson Community Center in Columbus, volunteers prepared and delivered 400 meals, according to organizer Beth Turner. That event began as an in-person fellowship decades ago.

Most of these outreaches began years ago without regard to people’s financial situations because organizers realized that some people had no family in the area with whom to share a holiday meal. So the meals became community gathering for fellowship, in part to battle loneliness for those living alone or those with no family close by for the holiday. The COVID-19 pandemic changed that.

In fact, many organizers and volunteers have stressed the idea that visiting with those they were delivering meals to has been just as important as the meals themselves.

And loneliness is more than just a local issue during the holidays. Earlier this year, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, released an 85-page advisory declaring loneliness a new public health epidemic in the United States.