MARIETTA - "Can I get you anything else?" asked 10-year-old Angel Gutberlet as she wound her way through the crowded dining hall Thursday at Norwood United Methodist Church.
Gutberlet, along with her five brothers and sisters, Mayleigh Seagle, 10, Alexsandriah Gutberlet 8, Hayleigh Thompson, 6, Zach Gutberlet 5, and Myah Barickman, 3, were part of an army of volunteers helping at one of many community Thanksgiving Day meals served across the Mid-Ohio Valley.
"It's good to dedicate your time," said Mayleigh, as she went around scooping up empty plates.
Photo by Jasmine Rogers
From left, Gaerry Imes of Zanesville, his sister, Carolyn Imes of Lowell and friend Flo Parcell of Lowell eat Thursday afternoon at Lowell United Methodist Church’s second annual Thanksgiving Day meal.
Meanwhile in Lowell, another group of youthful helpers took orders and ran heaping plates of turkey, mashed potatoes, and ham back from the kitchen to appreciative residents at the Lowell United Methodist Church.
"It's kind of a whole church effort. We really like to involve our youth," said event organizer Cindy Worthington of Lowell.
At Norwood United in Marietta, around 200 community members gathered to enjoy the free traditional Thanksgiving Day meal, generously provided by the support of 10 area churches and a few private donations, said event coordinator Tom Insley.
Thanksgiving By The Numbers
Norwood United Methodist Church?
* 328 pounds of turkey
* 100 pounds of ham
* 8 pounds of mashed potatoes
* 12 pounds of green beans
* 96 boxes of stuffing
* 46 dozen rolls
* 50 pumpkin pies
* 6 cans of whipped topping
* 60 serving sheet cake
Lowell United Methodist Church?
* 50 pounds of turkey
* 15 pounds of ham
* 5 gallons of mashed potatoes
* 3 gallons of green beans
* 10 boxes of stuffing
* 6 dozen rolls
* 10 pumpkin pies
* 6 gallons of noodles
"This more of a community dinner. This is not just our church's dinner," added Insley's wife, Vicky.
The church also delivered 234 meals, said Norwood United member Bonnie Rake, who oversaw the deliveries.
In preparing together more than 400 meals, the church purchased 328 pounds of turkey, 100 pounds of ham, 96 boxes of stuffing, 46 dozen rolls, 8 pounds of mashed potatoes, 12 pounds of green beans, and 50 pies.
The food, which is purchased at Food 4 Less, costs around $1,000. Additional expenses, such as plates and napkins, made the cost of the dinner nearly $1,400, said Tom Insley.
"Area churches furnish this meal. We couldn't do it without their support," he said.
Thursday marked the church's 14th community Thanksgiving Day meal. The meal has become a Thanksgiving Day custom for many attendees.
"We've just kind of made it a tradition. We come every year," said Florence Schlotterbeck, 64, of Marietta.
The dinner also was the perfect excuse to meet friends and make new ones.
"I've seen a few familiar faces," said 43-year-old Dan Chociej of Marietta.
Chociej's relatives live elsewhere and the meal is an opportunity to socialize on Thanksgiving Day, he said.
In Lowell, around 30 people enjoyed the Thanksgiving bounty. Though the crowd was smaller, it was not lacking in spirit.
Gaerry Imes, 75, came to Lowell from Zanesville to visit his sister, Carolyn Imes, 73. Carolyn has made the meal a tradition.
"I just get down here three or four times a year, for special events and stuff," Gaerry said.
"Did you just say I'm special?" Carolyn said.
Being surrounded by friends is what makes the meal so special, 83-year-old Flo Parcell of Lowell said.
"I don't have to cook," she said.
The community Thanksgiving meal, in its second year, is one of three ministries the church has in the works, said Pastor Pamela Lashley. The Ramp Up For Jesus program allows community members in need to borrow one of the church's aluminum wheelchair ramps for as long as needed and the Serving One Another Positively program provides free health and beauty supplies, such as toothpaste, laundry detergent and shampoo to those in need, she said.
"We're lucky to have such a loving, caring group of people here," added Lashley.
A spirit of camaraderie is what the church had in mind when they planned the first dinner last year, said Worthington.
"It's great to be able to feed someone who might not have a Thanksgiving, but the fellowship is more important than anything," she said.