Charities prepare for holiday
By MICHAEL HALL The Brunswick News
Patti Ferris Meredith examined several turkeys Tuesday that have been donated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
They will be a part of a meal she will begin preparing for the annual Thanksgiving dinner at Manna House, a community meal program at 1408 G St., Brunswick, that provides a daily hot meal to people who need one.
"It's a great meal," Meredith said of what will be served Thanksgiving Day.
For the last 20 years, Meredith and her family have been cooking the feast as their way of helping the less fortunate.
Meredith's daughter, sons, nephews, husband and sisters all pitch in every year to cook the meal and ask the youth group at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church to help serve it.
"It really is a family thing," she said. "This is it. This is our tradition. I can't even imagine not doing it."
Meredith started helping with Thanksgiving at Manna House after a couple from her church noticed the ministry was closed on the day of the biggest feast of the year. She and her family took over the meal preparation for Thanksgiving.
"These are just people who have fallen on hard times and could use a little help," she said.
Today, 20 years later, her family has grown to include in-laws, all of whom pitch in, which is good, because more people eat at Manna House on Thanksgiving Day than at any other time of the year.
Meredith, who downplays her family's Thanksgiving Day efforts in comparison to church groups and volunteers that serve at Manna House throughout the year, says nearly 200 people likely will be fed Thursday, about 50 more than on a typical day.
Meredith says helping at Thanksgiving gives the St. Francis Xavier youth group a chance to learn about helping people in need.
"We want them to know they can be of service," Meredith said.
Manna House will not be the only charity providing a Thanksgiving meal. Several blocks south, at 1624 Reynolds St., Brunswick, the Salvation Army will be serving food, which is nothing out of the ordinary, according to Maj. John Dancer, who heads the local unit.
"It's just another day for us," Dancer said.
After arriving in Brunswick this year from Oklahoma, Dancer says he is eager to see what turnout will be. He has worked in towns smaller than Brunswick and says Thanksgiving Day meals in other places were some of the biggest of the year.
In places like Brunswick, though, where other outlets like Manna House are available, Dancer says Thanksgiving could produce only a modest increase in the number of meals served.
Diners at the Salvation Army this year will be treated to deep-fried turkeys, Dancer said. But getting as many donated as needed has been tough. "We sure could use some more turkeys," he said.
Anyone wishing to donate a turkey to the Salvation Army can take one to the Reynolds Street location.
* Reporter Michael Hall writes about public safety, environment and other local topics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 320.