PARKERSBURG - Six years ago, Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, began serving Thanksgiving lunch to the underprivileged.
Since then, the lunch has grown into not only a place to get a hot meal but into more of a community gathering with church members, their families and outsiders attending.
The lunch continues this year under the caring eye of Pastor Janice E. Hill.
"This time of the year (the holiday season) is so exciting for me. It is all about giving back to the community and being thankful for what you have," said Hill.
Hill took over Christian Church, 1420 Washington Ave., two years ago after spending time at a church in her hometown of Houston.
"We had a lunch similar to this at the church in Houston," Hill said. "If this church had not already had the Thanksgiving lunch before I arrived, I was going to suggest we begin one."
If You Go
* When: Noon-2 p.m. Nov. 28
* Where: Christian Church, Disciples of Christ Fellowship Hall in Parkersburg
* What: Thanksgiving lunch
There have been several organizers in the past, such as church members Becky Cutlip, Freeman Wickham and Dotty Dalton. Angie Parsons and Jeryl Holly are presently in charge of preparing everything.
"We really are blessed to have two caring and loving people like Angie and Jeryl to organize and prepare everything," Hill said.
The two organizers take the time to assign all volunteers duties that help prepare the lunch.
The church plans on feeding 150-200 people and will be prepping and cooking for two days before the event.
There is no expense to anyone outside of the church as everything is prepared or supplied by donations and the church.
"Dave Hawkins, owner of Mother Earth Foods, is very generous and donates free range turkeys for lunch," Hill said.
The church prepares all the turkeys in-house, accompanied by varying types of potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry relish, rolls and various desserts.
"We really are blessed to be able to hold an event like this for the past six years," Hill said. "It is very rewarding to see the whole church come together as a whole and be able to do something that really matters."
Hill shared that some of the families have made this an annual stop on Thanksgiving, eating, talking and laughing before going off to other engagements.
Still, others stay and help clean up afterward and a few people have a meal and then wish to volunteer afterward, helping to serve others as a way of saying thank you.
Hill said it can be overwhelming sometimes with the sheer number of volunteers; she is always appreciative and grateful for all the help that is given.
One group that helps every year is the nursing students of WVU-P who are completing community service hours and help volunteer. Cheryl Robinson, a member of the church, teaches nursing and shares the opportunity.
The event takes place in the Fellowship Hall from noon to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and all the food is open to everyone as long as there is food to give away.
"The most important thing I would like people to know is that the lunch is open to everyone. It is not just for the underprivileged but (is) our way of giving back to the community and bringing people together for the holidays," Hill said.