“We’ve been able to spend some time with many of these people,” Karen Caparolie explained to volunteers gathered for prayer to begin the day. “We’ve gotten to know them and love them like family. For us, this is not just a project. It’s a chance for us to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for family members.”
The first-time effort came about quickly as volunteer organizers worked with the center to reach out to local churches for specific food donations of Thanksgiving staples including green beans, corn, dressing and cranberry sauce. Donations poured in quickly, with many churches exceeding requested portions.
“People were excited about this,” Jimmy Caparolie noted. “Our churches do care and everyone knows someone who is hurting. We’re grateful for the way the churches worked together to help make this possible.”
“Our cup was running over,” noted Abigail Linville, who with her husband, Matt, helped to coordinate churches and volunteers for the day. “It was a blessing to see so many who gave and who came out, wanting to do more than they had been asked. It was fabulous to see people who were willing to go out of their comfort zones to meet and talk to people. It was overwhelming.”
“It shows what can be accomplished,” Matt Linville added, “when we as the body of Christ work together. When people are hurting, that’s when we need to step outside our denominational lines and come together to help and to let people see Christ in us.”
Volunteers had met in advance to sort bags, providing each family with contents to provide a complete Thanksgiving meal. Pies and topping were added along with a ham for each family. Hams were donated by Howard and Ann Richardson, co-administrators of the Rural Hall-based National Coalition for Homeless Americans.
Others had gone out in advance to visit with families with need, letting them know a meal would be delivered. Applications for meals were also accepted at the center.
About 73 meals were picked up at the center on Thanksgiving morning while volunteers delivered another 123 meals to area residents. In all, with some large families requiring more than one bag, some 167 families were fed.
“It went well,” Jimmy Caparolie said. “This ministry had an opportunity to reach out to families that were hurting and to provide them with a one-day meal. Hopefully, that let them know that we care and that this community cares about them.”
“Our volunteers were happy and excited to be able to do this,” he continued, “but it was an eye-opening experience. Many of them were able to see first-hand that there are people hurting in our area. They were blessed by the opportunity to help, even for one day.”
“I had never had a Thanksgiving Day like this,” Matt Linville noted. “Usually the day is about food and family and I’m not really thinking of others. But this was a great way to spend Thanksgiving morning.”
The center will now return attention to preparation for its annual Christmas ministry, providing food and toys to area families with need.
Applications to receive help through the project are now being accepted. Local residents may apply at the center food pantry, located at 317 East US 52 Bypass, to receive foods designed to supplement meals over an 8-10 day period along with new toys and “stocking stuffers” for all children through the age of 14. Applications are accepted from 10-12 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Donations of toys are also needed and may be made at the center thrift shop, adjacent to the food pantry during regular hours and on Saturday mornings. The center requests no donations of war toys be made and notes that an abundant supply of Barbie dolls remain from last year. Toys are especially needed for babies and boys of all ages. The center is also in need of additional volunteers for its food pantry and thrift shop as well as for Christmas distribution, scheduled to take place on December 10-12.