Turkeys baking

Turkeys bake in the ovens at the Lewis Christian Community Center in preparing for a past Community Thanksgiving Meal.

OAK HILL — Each year hundreds of volunteers gather to provide thousands of Thanksgiving dinners to residents of Fayette County and surrounding areas.

The year 2020 would have marked the 20th year of a volunteer effort which started in the tiny kitchen at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Oak Hill. The endeavor, first tackled by church members, grew exponentially each year and has been in recent years offered from the Lewis Christian Community Center. The event is still sponsored by the New River Episcopal Ministries along with other local church and volunteers.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, dinner organizers have made the tough decision to cancel this year’s dinner.

“It is with very heavy heart that we must sadly announce the 2020 Community Thanksgiving Meal has been canceled due to overwhelming concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic,” Lesley Taylor, dinner coordinator, said this week.

“The Community Thanksgiving Meal, held at the Lewis Christian Community Center in Oak Hill, would have marked the 20th year in which volunteers have come together to provide free meals to individuals and families in Fayette County and surrounding areas. The decision to postpone the Community Thanksgiving Meal was not an easy one to make.

“While a number of different alternatives and options were considered, the reality of effectively and safely having the meal would seemingly be impossible. So many folks, those who receive meals, as well as those who prepare the meals, look forward to this event every year (and) we are incredibly disappointed about not being able to have the Community Thanksgiving Meal in 2020,” Taylor said before adding, “However, we are committed to coming back to The Lewis Christian Community Center in 2021 to hold the biggest and best meal ever.”

As food pantries around the county, state and nation have discovered, the need for food to support an increasing number of families has grown tremendously during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2019, before the pandemic outbreak, the Community Thanksgiving Meal numbers had already reached new heights.

At last year’s meal:

● 2,785 meals were served (2,250 delivery, 468 carryout and 67 dine-in);

● 2,262 pounds of turkey (112 whole turkeys) were cooked;

● 909 pounds of turkey breast (101 breasts) were served, as well as

● 675 pounds of mashed potatoes;

● 813 pounds of green beans;

● 100 12x20 pans of dressing;

● 2,592 rolls;

● 324 pounds of cranberry sauce;

● 50 gallons of gravy; and

● 2,800 desserts.

• • •

“The Community Thanksgiving Meal is a 100 percent volunteer effort and paid for solely by donations from businesses, individuals and churches. Without the support of our community, the Community Thanksgiving Meal would not be possible,” Taylor said.

“We are incredibly thankful for the support the meal has received throughout the years, as well as the volunteers who work so tirelessly throughout the week.”

• • •

To make donations toward the 2021 Community Thanksgiving Meal, contact Taylor at lesley_taylor@outlook.com or at 304-382-1421.

To learn about local food pantries if you’re in need, visit the Fayette Family Resource Network website at http://www.fayettefrn.com/resource-directory/food-pantry-community-meals/.

Email ckeenan@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @Fayette_Cheryl

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