ROSWELL, Ga. – Members of the World Harvest Church in Roswell celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday in the way they’ve always done it – by giving back to their community.
Dozens of volunteers turned out the day before Thanksgiving to pack boxes with everything a family would need for a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal – frozen turkey, stuffing mix, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. There was even a Hispanic-oriented package for the Latino community.
For 12 years now, the church has gathered the community around them on the holiday for a community feast, said Dorsella Reynolds, one of the founders of the “No Home Alone” Thanksgiving outreach effort.
“We had lots of people come to us and asking how they can spend Thanksgiving,” Reynolds said. “There were lots with no food, low income and some very lonely people.”
So Reynolds and other members of the church began thinking of having a large feast at the church open for the community. And this worked for the first few years, she said.
“Demand began to outstrip our supply and seats,” said fellow volunteer Cindy Goodsell.
Too many people began coming to the banquet for the volunteers to keep up, so the delivery of the food changed – from plates to boxes.
“We felt we could reach more people in a family with boxes,” Reynolds said.
The program that began by offering about 100 boxes of food now gives over 250 boxes. Each box is expected to feed eight people.
Reynolds said the economic problems of the past few years have led to the increase in demand, but also has led to the spreading of the program. As more people heard about it, more people wanted to take part. However, along with the increased need came increased numbers of volunteers.
“People in the community want to be involved, they just need an avenue,” said Pastor Mirek Hufton.
“Once you get momentum building and get people into it, the stream becomes a small river and people become addicted to it.”
About 75 members of the 1,400-member congregation volunteered in one way or another to help with the boxes this year.
For Reynolds, the program that has taken 12 years of her life to build and operate every year still brings her joy.
“It’s like bringing the world into my living room,” Reynolds said.
For more on the World Harvest Church and its outreach programs, visit them online at www.worldharvestchurch.org.