The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 23, 2012

Many Ashtabula County volunteers give portion of their holiday for others

Star Beacon

— Many area residents gave a portion of their holiday to help those less fortunate.

At least one family reached out following the death of a family member.

Julie Glotzbecker, and three family members, arrived at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church wearing shirts bearing the quote “Love what you do and do what you love” in honor of her brother Wade W. Gramley who recently died.

She said the former Ashtabula resident always gave money for the event even though he lived outside the area. “He’d send a check,” Glotzbecker said.

The St. Peter’s Dinner organizers, Diane Podgorny and Bob Ashley have been coordinating Thanksgiving Day dinner operations at the church for more than 30 years, Podgorny said.

She said more than 72 people signed up to attend the event, but more than 200 would likely be served.

Podgorny said there is a lot involved in the preparation of a free Thanksgiving Dinner. She said she spent more than 14 hours on Wednesday preparing for the big day and was back at the church by 8 a.m. on Thursday.

Podgorny said church members helped prepare 12 turkeys.

Jon Salters, of G.O. Ministries in Ashtabula, said the needs of area families has grown, but attendance was down a bit for the Thanksgiving Day dinner.

Attendance at a daily evening meal, at the ministry headquarters on Station Avenue, has increased steadily this year, Salters said.

He said attendance at the dinners would normally get smaller around the first of the month  after people received checks, but that has changed. Salters said homeless and single people were the bulk of those coming for food, but that has changed TOO.

“We are seeing more families,” Salters said.

In Geneva New Beginning Ministries joined up with Assumption Catholic Church and Kingsville Baptist Church to make Thanksgiving a little brighter for Geneva area residents.

“Me and my wife started this (11 years ago),” said Frank Bramer while cooking in the kitchen of the Geneva Community Center.

“This is our 11th year. Our baby is growing,” she joked about the dinner’s growth pattern.

“Family needs are up,” Rose said.

The Bramer’s said they have experienced need and want to help others now that they are in a stage of life where they are equipped to help others.

In addition to the food offered to area residents the organizers also offered prayer for those who came to the event. Tables of clothes were also available for those in need.

A long history of Thanksgiving dinners in the Conneaut-West Springfield area continued Thursday at New Leaf United Methodist Church in Conneaut.

Dave Jones, former owner of Crazy Dave’s in West Springfield, has been involved with the event for eight years.

“We have lots of volunteers and lots of food,” Jones said of what it took to feed the 150 people that came to the event.

Bob Shackley, another organizer of the event, said the event wasn’t just for those in need. “Anybody that doesn’t have a place to go (is welcome),” he said.

Jones said he wanted to thank the 30 volunteers that helped make the event possible.

While some people were sleeping and others getting an early start on Thanksgiving dinner preparations, long lines of people were waiting outside the Conneaut Kmart at 6 a.m. Thursday to get a head start on Christmas shopping. Shoppers also hit area stores late Thursday as marketers seek to capitalize on an interest to shop early, but avoid early morning lines.

More of that behavior is expected early this morning as stores open early for Black Friday shopping