Residents of Habersham County should not go hungry this Thanksgiving, thanks to four separate free meals planned Thursday.
This year, a couple of established community Thanksgiving meals will be joined by new events.
In Baldwin, there will be an afternoon covered-dish meal at Baldwin Fire Department for residents of Baldwin and the surrounding area.
As Administrative Officer Emily Woodmaster explained, the event is designed for everyone in the community.
“This idea was born from one of our council members, Alice Venter, who wanted to invite the community to be a part of Thanksgiving dinner for those that you know might be stuck at home alone or they don't have the money to travel to go visit their family or that Thursday, we wanted to create a space where they felt safe in their community and we could share meals together,” Woodmaster said.
Venter said she does not want anyone to feel alone and encouraged people to attend, especially if they don’t have family or friends with whom they can spend the day.
“The community is close to my heart,” Venter said. “We love our community, and we want them to feel loved and we want them to feel accepted and we want them to feel welcome and we just want them to come and hang out.”
Woodmaster said those who are able are asked to bring a side dish but said those who cannot afford to bring one still can join.
“Everyone is welcome,” Woodmaster said. “We're only asking that you bring your favorite side dish to add to the spread. The city is going to provide the meat. There's a couple of families that will also be bringing some sides as well, but everyone is welcome, doesn't matter where you live. If you live in Baldwin, if you live surrounding Baldwin, anyone is welcome.”
Woodmaster said there will be plenty of room for everyone.
“It will be at the Baldwin Fire Department at 165 Willingham Avenue,” Woodmaster said. “It will be from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving the 24th.”
In Cornelia, the fifth-annual Community Thanksgiving will be held at the Cornelia Community House, with free delivery options.
Billy Jenkins, a local pastor who serves on the committee that organizes the event, said everyone is welcome at the event, that will run from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
“We want to give a free meal to anyone that desires one on Thanksgiving Day so that they at least have that for themselves,” Jenkins said.
Residents of Habersham and White counties unable to travel to the Community House or a meal close to them can have plates delivered to them on Thursday.
“Anybody that desires a plate and cannot come and actually have it there at the Community House, we will get their address and we will contact them before we go and let them know we are on our way and we will carry as many plates as they desire to them,” Jenkins said. “We are opening up the Community House this year. There will be tables set there, so if one desires to come out and actually eat there at the Community House, we welcome that. You know, be cautious of if you feel like you're not well, please be mindful of that. But like I said, mainly we'll deliver here in Habersham County and in White County.”
Jenkins said the committee has worked hard to ensure enough food for 500 people.
“What we’ll do is we have some like the transitional center at Lee Arrendale,” Jenkins said. “We will be preparing in the neighborhood of 125 right off the bat, along with some other agencies called and said we need to deliver them to them also. So basically, I'm just figuring right off the bat we'll be fixing right around 200 plates to be delivered to those different agencies.”
Asked what keeps the committee going, especially on years like this one when turkeys were difficult to get, Jenkins said it’s phone calls like the elderly lady who called to tell him she has family but will not be with them for Thanksgiving.
“She began to tell me that story and she said he said all I wanted to be able to do was to have a Thanksgiving meal,” Jenkins said. “That really touched my heart. That's what keeps us going – I can speak for the whole team – that's what keeps us going from one day to the next.”
In Clarkesville, the community is coming together to provide a free homemade Thanksgiving meal the third-annual Community Thanksgiving from 11 to 1 Thursday at Stoney’s Family Restaurant.
And Grant Reeves VFW Post 7720 in Cornelia invites everyone to a free Thanksgiving lunch from 11 to 1 Thursday at the new post, 174 Cornelia Crossing Shopping Center, Cornelia. Phillip Kimbrell, who helped start the Community Thanksgiving at the Community House five years ago, is spearheading the VFW event.