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Feast open to all
Annual meal at church Thursday
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Forsyth County News

* For more information on Cumming First United Methodist Church’s Thanksgiving meal, call (770) 887-2900 or go online at Those bringing food are encouraged to contact the church first.

* The Place of Forsyth County and Community Connection have opportunities for volunteers during the holidays and year round. More information can be found online at or
For Forsyth County residents who can’t be with their families on Thanksgiving Day, a local church is offering the next best thing.

Cumming First United Methodist Church is inviting the community to a holiday feast from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday.

“This meal is so special because it’s not a feed-the-hungry meal, this is more of a community Thanksgiving,” said event coordinator Stephani Satterfield.

“It’s where our church is open just for everyone to celebrate Thanksgiving. To me, that is the true spirit of Thanksgiving.”

Last year’s feast fed more than 800 people, with nearly 240 meals delivered to those unable to attend. More than 50 turkeys and about 30 pans of dressing were served.

Based on the economy and the need seen at the church’s food pantry, Satterfield estimates more people will come for the meal, which is in its ninth year.

“There are so many people in this county that otherwise would not have a Thanksgiving to share with other people,” she said. “And if their family’s not in town, we can be a part of their family for a day and have that contact with them and that sense of community and togetherness that Thanksgiving is all about.”

In addition, she said, the feast is not just for those without other plans. Since the meal is a luncheon, those who do have other plans can come to the community meal and still make it to dinner with their own families.

That’s Satterfield’s personal plan.

“When we’re finished, I’ll pack up the kids and my husband will get in the car and we’ll drive up to see his parents up in the mountains,” she said. “So we get two meals.”

The community feast is free, but those who can are welcome to bring food, either for the feast or canned goods for the church’s food pantry.

Several other local organizations have already had their Thanksgiving meals, including the Forsyth County Senior Center.

Shelly Johnson, center organizer, said the center holds the event the week prior to the holiday because any time later, “attendance goes down because they’re going to be with their family.”

First Baptist Church of Cumming had its meal Sunday, while The Place of Forsyth County held its senior citizen luncheon Tuesday.

The Place will still have a weekly luncheon today at noon for anyone in need. NewSong Church will be providing the food.

On Saturday, The Place distributed boxes with ingredients for about 225 families to make their own Thanksgiving meal.

Sandy Beaver, director of The Place, said the need for food is constant. Around the holidays, though, food can bring comfort and a feeling of community.

“During this special time of year, I think it’s more important than ever that we help our neighbors in their times of need, especially with the economy being the way it is,” she said. “I think it lets people know that there’s somebody out there that cares about them.”