Breaking Bread: Community organizations seek support for pre-Thanksgiving meal gatherings
by Marie Nesmith
Nov 10, 2013 | 2456 views | 0 0 comments | 178 178 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For Catherine Teems, volunteering at last year’s Feed the Community Dinner in Honor of Michael T. Dean was a touching experience she always will remember.

“[I wanted to volunteer] to help my fellow man. Everybody needs to volunteer more and help people — everyone does, even me,” said Teems, an 82-year-old Cartersville resident. “... Maybe I’m being selfish when I say this, but I get some satisfaction out of helping other people.

“I [enjoyed] seeing the people come through,” she said about the New Frontier of Bartow County Inc.’s Feed the Community Dinner, “and it’s always a pleasure to help those in need when you can. What touched me [most] was people helping other people. A lot of times people would come through there in wheelchairs and there was always somebody to assist them to the table and to see that [their needs were met]. I think I got a lot of pleasure out of seeing people help other people.”

Anchoring the serving line, Teems topped off each diner’s plate with a roll, helping the New Frontier’s offering feed more than 2,000 people in 2012.

This year, the Feed the Community Dinner will kick off several similar type offerings, with others provided by Christian Hearts United Reaching Community’s Hungry and Open Hand Community Outreach Inc. With each pre-Thanksgiving event looking to the public for support, the success of the three efforts — expected to serve about 5,000 people — depends on the community’s commitment to help their fellow neighbors.

Feed the Community Dinner

On Nov. 23 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the New Frontier’s Feed the Community Dinner in Honor of Michael T. Dean will provide a free meal and on-site services to at least 2,000 people at the Cartersville Civic Center, 435 W. Main St. The event — the largest outreach project of the nonprofit that also provides academic scholarships — is named in memory of one of the New Frontier’s former presidents, who passed away in 2011.

“This year is our 13th annual Feed the Community Dinner,” New Frontier President Tony Suber said. “The dinner really was started some time ago because the organization saw there was a need and an opportunity to do two things: One, reach out to the community and provide a meal for those who need it and two, it’s also an opportunity for us to provide a late morning, mid-afternoon meal for anyone who wants to come.

“And for those organizations who provide meals every day, this is an opportunity for them to take the afternoon off. If they can get their folks who normally come to them to be fed, it’s an opportunity for us to allow them that one afternoon to have a free day to themselves, not to be burdened with trying to provide for the folks that they provide all the time for. So it’s a great dual opportunity.”

Along with a traditional Thanksgiving meal, the event also will feature complimentary on-site services, including barber and beautician stations, health screenings, toys for children and a clothing and coat dispersal. While the volunteer effort is geared primarily toward helping those in need, everyone in the community is welcome to attend.

“We’ve found that by inviting everyone in the community you have an opportunity to really have what we thought was a community event,” Suber said. “To be more specific, if someone is truly in need, they’re having financial trouble and they need to come and have a free meal, that’s fantastic, but we also like the fact that you’ve got individuals who normally come and ... sit down and eat with these folks.

“[As] I travel around the country in the work that I do for my firm, I always reach out [when I] see people on the street or simply invite them to dinner. I take them to dinner and what you find is that they haven’t had that kind of conversation in a long, long time. So we really want it to be a community event and for those folks that don’t need the help or want to show up because it’s a free meal, that’s fine. But what we find is that those who come and show up and are a part of the community and sit down with these folks, it becomes a very engaging environment.”

To help meet the community’s needs through this event, New Frontier members are seeking contributions and volunteers. Supporters can mail financial donations to New Frontier of Bartow County Inc., Attn: Feed the Community Dinner in Honor of Michael T. Dean, P.O. Box 1891, Cartersville, GA 30120 or make a contribution at the event. Those wanting to volunteer need to call William Solomon at 404-625-3880.

For more information about the Feed the Community Dinner or to make a financial contribution, contact Suber at 404-825-9529 or TonySuber@CertusBank.com.

@Bodycopy center bold:Feed the Community Pre-Thanksgiving Feast

Presented by the Taylorsville-based Open Hand Community Outreach, the Feed the Community Pre-Thanksgiving Feast will be held Nov. 24 from 1 to 5 p.m. at a to-be-determined Cartersville location. Dine-in and carry-out options will be available.

“The meal serves a couple of purposes,” stated Open Hand Community Outreach CEO Coretta Green in a news release. “It serves as a community builder, bringing together people who might not normally socialize for a meal. It also showcases the non-profit organization’s multipurpose vision, which hostesses a variety of programs — Women’s Retreat, Youth Football Camp, Easter Egg Extravaganza, Food Pantry, Feed the Community Pre-Thanksgiving Feast and Adopt-A-Family for Christmas, Second Chance Program just to name a few.”

Through its pair of Pre-Thanksgiving Feasts in Cartersville and Rockmart, the nonprofit expects to serve more than 1,000 people this year.

According to the release, “There is an immediate need in our own communities and we need your help — right now — more than ever before. We already know the need this year will be greater because of current economic conditions. ... All money collected stays in our community and is used for the purchase of food, beverages, and eating utensils.

“Volunteers are needed for preparing and/or serving food. Food donations that are needed are turkeys and the traditional trimmings — mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, and, of course, lots of homemade desserts.”

For more information on donating or volunteering, visit www.openhandcommunityoutreach.org or call 770-940-0003.

C.H.U.R.C.H.

Christian Hearts United Reaching Community’s Hungry will strive to meet the physical, spiritual, personal and emotional needs of its diners Nov. 27. From 2 to 7 p.m., its event will offer a free Thanksgiving-style meal as well as on-site services — haircuts, blood drive, and the distribution of coats, blankets, and health and beauty aids — at the Cartersville Civic Center.

Now expecting 2,000 people, the C.H.U.R.C.H. offering has evolved from a small Thanksgiving dinner at Freedom Worship Center five years ago.

“We just started with good intentions to do what the Bible says — to feed those that are hungry, give somebody something to wear and give them something to drink,” said Ronnie Richardson, pastor of Freedom Worship Center. “The first year, five years ago, it started out [with] 250 people. ... The second year we did it, it went to some 450 people.

“We [saw] that it was getting bigger and we moved down to the civic center three years ago now,” he said, adding the event drew about 1,400 people in 2011 and 2012. “... This year, we’re anticipating probably 2,000 people due to other factors that have kind of changed this year — [the event has] grown each year, transportation’s gotten better, us getting to the people has gotten better and the word’s getting out there. That’s the biggest thing that we’ve learned over the past few years, that there’s a lot of people in need in Cartersville, and by all of the churches working together we’re able to go to places, such as Parkway North, the Efficiency Lodge, the Guest House and even some tent cities that we found in Cartersville last year. We’re able to go out and to meet the needs of this community.”

Along with about 23 churches from across the county, other representatives of the community also are involved in the pre-Thanksgiving outreach effort.

“There’s two sides of this ministry,” Richardson said. “One side is meeting the need, but the other side is a united church effort and not just a united church effort but a united community effort.

“So we have politicians. We have local merchants. We have local businesses and also the support of all of the surrounding churches. So we’re not just meeting their physical needs with coats and blankets and haircuts and Bibles and a good meal, we’re also meeting their spiritual and personal and emotional needs by having on-site ministry.”

Currently, four Cartersville organizations are serving as collection sites for the community to donate coats and blankets for the event. They include Immanuel Broadcasting Network, 779 S. Erwin St.; The Gate, 952 N. Tennessee St.; Waffle House, 2310 Highway 411; and Steps of Faith Dance Studio, 65 Walnut Grove Road. Along with being a collection site, The Gate also will hold a benefit for C.H.U.R.C.H. Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.

For more information about the upcoming community gathering or to make a financial contribution, visit www.freedomiscalling.org or call 770-596-1046 or 770-387-0808.