PARKERSBURG - About 100 members of the community celebrated the ringing in of the new year together at the Baptist Temple of Parkersburg during the annual New Year's Day dinner.
For nearly a decade the church, located at the corner of 19th Street and Park Avenue next to City Park, has provided a dinner on the first day of the year, said Pastor Larry Dale.
"Our mission is to do God's will, neighbor helping neighbor," he said. "About 10 years ago we did a survey of the community and asked people what they would like as we also realized there are many places people can go on Thanksgiving and Christmas for a meal, but nowhere had an event of New Year's Day."
Nearly 100 people attended the Baptist Temple Parkersburg’s annual free community dinner Tuesday to celebrate New Year’s Day and a fresh start. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
Because of the lack of a community meal, the temple decided to fill that New Year's Day void and open to the community for the first holiday of each year.
While Dale said the church's goals are to help those who are hindered, hurting or hungry, the doors are open to anyone who wants to come for the event.
"We get a lot of people who just want fellowship and to be around their neighbors," he said.
Members from the church provide the food while donations from others in the community are also used for the meal.
Although turkey and ham are the mainstays of most holiday dinners, the New Year's Day dinner at Baptist Temple Parkersburg offered a variety of different dishes from chicken wings to spaghetti and lasagna to pizza, salad and more.
"We do always have cabbage or sauerkraut, which are staples of the New Year to bring wealth, but we also have spaghetti and other non-traditional New Year's foods," Dale said.
Volunteers on Wednesday were busy not only preparing the food, but also serving it.
Sandra Walker, of Rockport, has volunteered at the dinner for so many years she cannot remember how long it has been.
"I honestly can't remember how many years it has been," she said. "I come here because this is New Year's for me."
For the first time Sandi McCoy, of Belpre, donated her time to serve meals on Wednesday.
"I am a giver and this dinner is the perfect opportunity for me to help others in the community," McCoy said. "This may be my first year, but it isn't my last."
Church member Leisa Stover, of Parkersburg, said she and her husband have volunteered for the dinner for the past three years.
"This is my favorite of the church's programs," Stover said. "It's a great way for us to start the new year."
For the people who walked into the church on Wednesday, Dale said he would like them to realize that someone loves and cares about them.
"We want them to know that God loves them, God's people loves them and God is going to provide, no matter how hungry they are, no matter how hurting they are and no matter how hindered they are," Dale said. "God has said he will meet the needs of people.
"What we are doing today demonstrates the power of God's love."