FORSYTH COUNTY -- While many members of the community are getting meals and travel plans together for Thanksgiving later this week, many local groups and organizations are working to provide meals for those in need or with nowhere to go.
Churches, non-profits and schools in Forsyth County are offering Thanksgiving meals to the community and those in need, with each offering its own spin on the holiday.
Cumming First United Methodist Church
Cumming First United Methodist Church at 770 Canton Highway (Hwy. 20 west) will host their 16th annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner from 11a.m.-1p.m. on Thanksgiving Day at the church’s family life center.
“What’s Thanksgiving without turkey and dressing and potatoes and vegetables and pie and dessert and that sort of stuff? That’s really what Cumming First is doing for the community,” said Regis Coccia, co-chair of the meal.
Coccia said the meal would not be possible without volunteers, and decorations were provided by students at the church’s pre-school.
“There’s a great need in our community and neighboring communities in getting people together to take a little bit of time out of their day on a major holiday to devote a couple of hours [that] can really make a difference in someone else’s life.”
He said the event can hold about 400 people at a time, but the number served is much higher.
“We’ve been serving about 1,000 people annually; 200 to 250 of those meals are delivered to elderly and shut-ins and the disabled in the community,” Coccia said.
Coccia said those interested in eating or volunteering can find more information at Cfumcga.org.
The Place of Forsyth County
Local non-profit The Place of Forsyth County will be sending meals to those in need that can be cooked at home.
“We are putting together a Thanksgiving meal in a box, plus we’re putting in fresh produce with eggs, milk and cheese this year and a turkey or a ham,” said Ashley Carroll, food services coordinator for the emergency services provider. “It is all of the staples, like the stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, potatoes, green beans, corn, sweet potatoes.”
Carroll said volunteers worked to purchase the food, prepare boxes and hand them out up until Wednesday and received food from local schools and churches.
“This is our opportunity to help fellow Forsyth County neighbors that couldn’t purchase the items to have a Thanksgiving meal,” she said. “They can’t afford it – it’s expensive – so we give them the opportunity to sill have that Thanksgiving meal.”
About 260 families are expected to be served through the meal, and while the window to sign up has closed, Carroll recommends those who are in need should contact The Place.
“They are welcome to contact us to see if we have any extras,” Carrol said. “If there is a family in need, they’re welcome to give us a call. If we don’t have the food for Thanksgiving, we will certainly at least get them food.”
Chestatee Elementary School
In northeast Forsyth, Chestatee Elementary School will host its community meal for at least the sixth year on Tuesday from 4-6 p.m.
“What better way than opening our building when teachers don’t have to be here and saying we want our families not to worry about the day and just have an hour or two where they can let loose and not worry about what’s going on at home whether it be good, bad or indifferent,” said teacher Craig Ahrens, who first came up with the meal.
The school has already purchased 20 turkeys for the meals, and teachers will bring in side dishes.
“There is a lot of work that goes into it,” said Principal Polly Tennies. “The food is prepared by the teaching staff, and we now know who makes the best stuffing, we know who should be on pies.”
Tennies said the meal is open to anyone in the community with an “open heart” and that she wants the meal to unite the community and the school.
“People care,” she said. “There’s just a connection between the teachers, the students and the student’s families, so just really see everyone is connected and wishes well toward each other, and that’s just one of the signs that when you come into the environment you just sense that we are glad you are here and want to do something nice for you.”