Between the Centralia Community Church of God (CCOG) and Gather Church, over 500 free Thanksgiving meals were served to the community on Thursday through drive-through, walk-up and delivery service.
CCOG member Judi Howard counted about 300 total meals served by 55 volunteers. Leftovers will be handed out during the church’s Sunday night dinner service on Nov. 28, which is held every fourth and fifth Sunday of the month at 3320 Borst Ave., Centralia.
Howard said there were only 27 volunteers registered to help before the event, but when the time came, teachers, members of the congregation and many others began showing up.
“These guys just showed up, they had heard about it and they wanted to be a part of it,” she said.
The church also delivered over 100 meals to homes as far as Randle.
“The only reason we did that is because this woman said she was alone and house-bound and she wasn’t going to have a meal, a Thanksgiving meal, so my grandson went out there,” Howard said. “We can’t just say no because Jesus wouldn’t just turn somebody away just because it’s out of our way so that’s what we do. We do what Jesus would do.”
At Gather Church, a stalwart provider of meals to Lewis County, 237 meals were served on Thanksgiving. In the past, the church has served entire hotels and encampments, totaling up to 800 meals one holiday. This year was much more lowkey, said organizer Triss Stanfield, which allowed the 30 to 40 volunteers time to connect with folks who walked up to the window for their meals.
Gather also did some deliveries, primarily to families who were in quarantine due to COVID-19 and could not venture out to get their own. Dinners included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and dinner rolls.
“I’ve been doing this for 10 years and to be able to serve our community and to be able to see people is the whole reason I do this … to be able to see our volunteers hanging out and talking and being like, ‘When do we get to serve people?’” Stanfield said. “(Guests) were just so thankful that they had a hot meal and a good meal. To be able to serve somebody a hot meal on a cold rainy night is everything.”
Both Gather Church and CCOG will serve Christmas meals in December. CCOG in mid-December will also serve homemade cookies in half-dozen batches.
“We’ll probably make between 1,800 to 2,000 cookies. Each guest will get six cookies,” Howard said. “We serve our families and our friends and our guests good stuff. Not that store-bought isn’t good, but we want to show more integrity … as a special treat to them.”
Gather’s Christmas dinner will be scheduled for the church’s regular Thursday meal service on Dec. 23, starting at 4:30 p.m. at 100 S. Rock St., Centralia, since Christmas falls on the weekend this year.
The Chronicle’s community calendar will continue to provide information on free holiday meals.