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Sugarloaf UMC feeds those in need on Thanksgiving

Staff Photo: John Bohn Izabel Nolan, 3, take a big bite of bread during a Thanksgiving Day meal with her extended family, served by volunteers at Sugarloaf United Methodist Church.  Thanksgiving meals were served to needy people, or those with no other place to go on Thanksgiving day.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Izabel Nolan, 3, take a big bite of bread during a Thanksgiving Day meal with her extended family, served by volunteers at Sugarloaf United Methodist Church. Thanksgiving meals were served to needy people, or those with no other place to go on Thanksgiving day.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Volunteers at Sugarloaf United Methodist Church, including Zach Julian, 8, the self-proclaimed "King of Gravy," right, and his brother Joshua Julian, 11, center, serve Thanksgiving meals to needy people, or those with no other place to go on Thanksgiving day. The Julian family, including mom Stacey Julian and youngest son Elijah Julian, 5, reside in Suwanee.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Volunteers at Sugarloaf United Methodist Church serve Thanksgiving meals of turkey, ham and many, many acompanyments to needy people, or those with no other place to go on Thanksgiving day.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Izabel Nolan, 3, sits on the lap of her uncle, Stephen O'Kelley of Buford , while eating a meal served by volunteers at Sugarloaf United Methodist Church on Thanksgiving Day. The volunteers served meals to needy people, or those with no other place to go. At left is Chuck Nolan, father of Izabel, and at center is Lynsey O'Kelley.

DULUTH -- If just one person had come, it would have all been worthwhile.

Sugarloaf United Methodist Church served a hearty Thanksgiving meal to hundreds of needy people from around the Duluth area Thursday, volunteers dishing out turkey, ham, green beans and potatoes. Volunteer drivers bused in those in need from around the city for the meal that ran from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

They had food for about 300, though Tami Dillard, one of the event's organizers, said early on that nothing would have stopped them from serving more.

"If we have more than that, that would just be a blessing," Dillard said. "We'll find the food somewhere."

Dillard's small group at the church dreamed up the idea in October, posting fliers across the community. By Oct. 15, it was "a monster." They got so many volunteers they had to begin turning them away.

"This area needed it," Dillard said. "There's just nothing. We just really felt like we wanted to do something in our own backyard."

The day's festivities were more than just a meal, too. Children were invited to play on the playground and do arts and crafts. Plenty of children's clothes and shoes -- mostly unclaimed items from several local schools, Dillard said -- were available for those in need to sort through.

Stephanie Lynn O'Kelley brought her entire extended family from Buford to share in the meal.

"I just wanted to come out among strangers and have fellowship," she said, picking through clothes and watching her granddaughter play. "It's just been great and inspiring to see something like this. It's just really humbling."

The church used buses and vans to bring needy families to their campus on Old Peachtree Road from five separate locations across the greater Duluth area -- the Norcross co-op, Discover Mills, a Kroger store on Sugarloaf Parkway, Gwinnett Place Mall and a Big Lots on Buford Highway in Suwanee.

Wherever they came from, they were enjoying the meal. And the church was enjoying helping them out on a day about giving thanks.

"I like meeting new people," 8-year-old church member Zach Julian said while dishing out gravy. "I think (helping people) is basically what I was made to do."

Comments

suedehead 2 years, 10 months ago

It's great that so many want to provide Thanksgiving for those in need, but it reminds of a comment said to me years ago by a staff member of the homeless shelter where I was voluntering as we were chatting about all the help they had that day:

"Ya know, they'll be needing a meal tomorrow, also. Too bad there will only be the usual 6 of us here to provide one."

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Peachesncream 2 years, 10 months ago

And there will be help for them.There are many that help those in need year round unfortunately the numbers of those in need are growing quickly-too quickly. The Dillard group and SUMC felt led to provide a Thanksgiving meal this year. It not only helps the families stretch the food they have at home by one day or more but provided a place for fellowship. SUMC also provided gently used clothing and shoes to those who needed them as well as food to take home (breads, sweets, ect). It was a blessing all around. Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love ALL! If anyone feels led to do more there are ministries in Gwinnett County that need food and assistance every day of the year.

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Peachesncream 2 years, 10 months ago

There are many that help to provide food unfortunately the numbers of those in need are growing so quickly - too quickly. Everyone and every church or group has to start somewhere and SUMC and the Dillard group were led to start this Thanksgiving. Many who came were able to stretch the food they already have at home by one day and that is huge. They also left with food (breads, sweets, etc.) as well as clothes and shoes. It was also an opportunity to spend the day with others and not alone. It was a blessing all around. If anyone wants to help those in need of food there are many ministries in Gwinnett County - Huffman House (mobile food pantry) and SaltLight Shelter are two new ministries. Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love ALL! God Bless!

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