For one man, a free Thanksgiving dinner may have been a lifesaver.
Maria Tijerina, secretary of the Good Shepherd Mennonite Church, said after the group’s dinner at the Ruihley Park Scout Cabin, Saturday, Nov. 21, a man said if he didn’t come to the dinner, he wasn’t sure he wanted to go on living.
This was the first year Good Shepherd put on such a meal. While turnout was less than expected, “We did serve the unemployed and the economically disadvantaged.
“Quite a few children came, and there were a couple of single mothers,” Tijerina said.
“One woman who came had no family.”
There is a need. Tijerina said some people at church had done some calculations, “and we think we can safely say 30% of the working class is laid off.”
About three quarters of the Good Shepherd congregation turned out to help serve the meal, which featured turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans, 22 homebaked pumpkin pies, and 10 apple pies.
There was so much food, people were sent home with leftovers, she said.
Donations covered the cost of the meal, “and the donations covered the exact cost.”
Tijerina said with today’s generation, many are uncomfortable coming to church services, so it’s important for the church to reach out to people in the community with other events, such as concerts or meals, “where people can come and feel comfortable.”
She said, “We don’t want people to feel alone. Don’t feel like we’re not here. God is everywhere.”
Tijerina said her daughter told her, “Mom, if you’re reaching one or two people who are having a sad time at the holiday, that’s enough.”
For the third year, Archbold Central Mennonite Church is preparing about 250 free meals for people across Northwest Ohio. Meals will be served today, Wednesday, Nov. 25– the day before Thanksgiving.
People who reserved meals in advance may pick up their dinners of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, homemade dinner rolls with butter, cranberry salad, and pumpkin pie at the church.
Church members also will box up meals and deliver them to surrounding towns including Bryan, West Unity, Fayette, Wauseon, Napoleon, and Ridgeville Corners.
“Our youth, their mentors, and people in the church, do the delivery,” said Beth Aeschliman, fellowship ministry coordinator.
“We put (meals) in carryout boxes and try to get them out as fast as we can, but they might need warmed once they get there.”
This year, the church is also offering a dine-in option for members and guests.
The dinner is available to anyone, but Aeschliman said it’s intended “for people in the community that need a blessing– people who have suffered the loss of a loved one, anybody who has suffered hardship,” he said.
Aeschliman said there has been a good response to the program.
“One woman already has a thank-you note ready for whoever drops off the meal.”
Like Good Shephard Mennonite, Central has received several donations, “including two big turkeys people raised at home,” Aeschliman said.
“A lot of members bring their kid with them to help out.
“It shows them that no matter how difficult life seems for us, they can see someone who has it worse.”
The meal program “has been a blessing,” Aeschliman said.