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Church helps provide early holiday supper
Volunteers relish role
Rick Cooke, left, Colie Miller, and Stacey Torchia serve visitors a Thanksgiving lunch Wednesday at The Place. - photo by Autumn Vetter

With the efforts of Forsyth County churches, civic groups and nonprofits, many families in need were able to enjoy a traditional turkey dinner for Thanksgiving.

Some families got an early start Wednesday at The Place of Forsyth County, where Creekside United Methodist Church volunteers served up turkey and dressing casserole, green beans, corn pudding, salad and bread.

“It’s kind of an appropriate meal for the day before Thanksgiving,” said Rick Cooke, kitchen manager for the church. “The church pays for the main course and the volunteers bring everything else … every one of these [volunteers] are just here to help, to make sure these folks get at least one good meal.”

The meal was well received, but volunteer Kristy Humphrey said Thanksgiving isn’t the only time to feed the hungry.

“I feel like every time is important,” she said. “There may be more numbers here, more people [around Thanksgiving], but I feel like every time we’re here is just as important as the next.”

The Place’s executive director, Sandy Beaver, said the need is year round, but there is something special about Thanksgiving.

“I think it’s a time when you sit back and reflect about being thankful for what you have and you want to help others, and that’s probably the biggest part of it,” she said.

“A lot of us have seen a lot of things going on with friends and families that we know and what a different time it is for so many, that they want to get out there and do something and be part of the solution.”

Beaver said Thanksgiving is the kickoff for the season of giving, which includes Christmas and runs through the new year. Still, the need never stops.

She said people lose jobs, experience the death of a loved one or are “struggling every day to make end’s meet when prices are increasing and incomes are not.”

“Our food needs have gone up 20 percent this year and it’s been a difficult year for a lot of people who’ve never had to ask for assistance before,” Beaver said. “The need is year round.”

It’s something Cooke has seen during his past three years of cooking meals monthly for The Place.

He’s also gotten his grandchildren involved, including Hannah Miller, 12, who has worked with him at food pantries but was at The Place for the first time Wednesday.

“We donate food and I usually help him sort it out and give it to people,” she said. “I think it’s important because I sometimes feel bad for people who can’t afford their own food.”

It’s the people who come for the meals that have brought Humphrey back month after month.

“The people are so wonderful and you start to recognize faces and it’s just a good feeling to help them,” she said.  “I try to come every month or every other month. I really enjoy it.”