Throughout Richmond County Thursday, some residents spent Thanksgiving with their family and friends watching football. Others occupied their day by helping the less fortunate and senior citizens who couldn’t get out by preparing a meal for them.
Timbers Crossing Free Will Baptist Church on Loch Haven Road in Rockingham had only served 10 plates of turkey by 12:30 p.m., but organizers made it clear anybody could stop by and get a free Thanksgiving meal.
“Anybody that wants to eat. We don’t care what color, either,” joked Tom Goodwin. “There’s nothing wrong with having a little joy while you serve the Lord.”
The church held its first service on Father’s Day of this year, but Donna Tyler said its members try to do as much for the community as they can. The story behind the church, according to Tyler, is they were looking for a new building and kept being led back to the current one. She said the rent was more than they could afford, however.
“Our preacher came and talked to the owner and told him what we could give him,” said Tyler. “He (the owner) paid the difference so we could get the church. We’ve had people donate to the building fund.”
Thursday’s turkey meal was free of charge to whoever showed up to eat. With the church only having 12 full-time members, those 10 plates already given away was a good start.
Anita Collins is the owner of Divine Café on Earle Franklin Drive in Dobbins Heights and is also a member of First Harvest Christian Center. Anita, along with her husband Ray, saw a way to combine both roles to help those less fortunate in the area.
The First Harvest church family all came out, Anita Collins said, and had served 50 plates halfway through the three-hour window they set aside for Thanksgiving meals.
The ham, turkey, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, candied yams and sweet potato pie was available for the homeless and anyone who would otherwise go without a meal for Thanksgiving, said Ray Collins.
“God told us to do it last year, and we’re gonna continue to do it,” he said. “It lets them know somebody cares. We don’t want the homeless to feel left out.”
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Down the street on Earle Franklin Drive, the Watkins and Kendall families were gathering for the 10th year in a row to provide meals to the less fortunate and older residents throughout the county.
Angeline David, a member of the Watkins-Kendall family and Dobbins Heights Town Council member, said roughly 180 plates had been given out between those coming into the new community center and meals being delivered. It’s a tradition that’s been going on for a decade and one, she hopes, can be passed along to the younger generation.
“When we were young, we had other people taking care of us,” said David. “So we felt we needed to give back. We got together and decided to help someone else. We left our Thanksgivings so we could do for others. Since some of us are getting up in age, we’re trying to let the children start handling is a little bit.”