BEND AREA — Bend Area residents will have no reason to spend the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday alone, as two churches are planning free dinners for the community.
The first will be Saturday at God’s House of Hope in Hartford, located in the former Hartford Elementary School building. The second dinner will be Thanksgiving Day at the New Haven Lutheran Church on Fifth Street in New Haven.
Originally planned as a church dinner, the members of God’s House of Hope decided to open their feast to the community in memory of one of their members who recently passed away, Deanna Bush.
When Bush died, donations were made to the church in lieu of flowers. Angie Fletcher, who along with Ami Williams is heading the dinner, said that the money was used to purchase more than 90 pounds of turkey.
When news of the dinner began to spread, several businesses and individuals stepped up to help provide the food and supplies. Walmart provided funds for the stuffing; Powell’s Food Fair, the green beans; McDonald’s, tea, cups and paper products; AEP Mountaineer plant, paper plates; Tudor’s, take-out containers; and Bob Evans, rolls and butter. Helen Lemley is donating the desserts, along with some other volunteers.
Fletcher said the dinner will be 3-6 p.m. The full menu will include turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, rolls, dessert and drinks. Church members will be serving the dinner.
“Our main goal is to serve those who wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving dinner otherwise,” Fletcher said, but emphasized the dinner is open to all.
She added the church will deliver meals to Hartford residents only who are known to be disabled or unable to attend. All others will be required to visit the church. Fletcher said the limited delivery is due to the number of volunteers.
The Thanksgiving Day dinner at the New Haven Lutheran Church will begin at 11 a.m. and continue until the food is gone, according to organizer Holly Lieving. Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, drinks and desserts will be the fare offered.
Lieving said the idea of the holiday dinner came last Thanksgiving as her family sat around their own holiday table.
“My son Wes (Dr. Wes Lieving) said, ‘Next year let’s do this at the church, and do it for the community,’” Lieving said. “We are so thankful for everything we have and decided to share.”
She added the church got behind the idea and the dinner became reality. Lieving said it isn’t the first time the church has hosted a holiday meal for the community though. Years ago, church member Donna Thompson led a dinner on Christmas Day. She passed away the next spring, and the dinner wasn’t continued.
Dinners are nothing new for the Lutheran church women, however. They are well known in the Bend Area for conducting benefit dinners. Three months ago, they began “God’s Work, Our Hands” dinners.
Lieving said a dinner is conducted the second Sunday of each month in the fellowship hall behind the church and is open to the public. They begin at noon. She added on each of the three previous dinners, about 100 meals were taken out into the community.
The Thanksgiving meal will also be available for take-out, but will not be able to be delivered.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing and lives in Mason County.