A friendly smile, a gentle hug and a lovingly prepared meal were all a major part of the Thanksgiving experience for hundreds of area residents whose day was made better by the work of volunteers.
“I wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving if they didn’t come here,” said Lisa Reed, a resident of Ashtabula Towers who was thankful for the efforts of G.O. Development Corp. that delivered meals to more than 240 people throughout Ashtabula County.
“I like it,” said Bobby McCabe, also a resident of Ashtabula Towers. The volunteers set up shop in the lobby of the complex and waited for each resident to come down and claim their dinner.
In Geneva, a cooperative effort of area churches resulted in a free dinner for dozens of people, said Crystal Schuld who coordinated the effort.
“We are hoping to serve 150 to 175 people.”
Schuld said at least six churches assisted in providing food and volunteers.
Drew Thomas, of G.O. Development Corp., coordinated the Ashtabula based meals program which is an extension of the weekly ministry to the needy at the Station Avenue complex. He said there are even homeless people that live in the Gulf who received meals on Thursday.
“That [the meals] is part of our service to the community. There is no greater feeling than helping people,” he said.
Conneaut’s Corpus Christi Parish coordinated a meal delivery program and served meals as well with 20 volunteers giving of their time on Wednesday to begin preparation and 30 to 35 people assisting on Thanksgiving. “We delivered 200 meals today [Thursday],” said Renee Roach who coordinates the program with other volunteers.
Both ministries started delivery services in the last several years.
“I think it is a growing need, especially for the elderly,” Roach said.
She said young people without cars also struggle to experience Thanksgiving because they have trouble getting to areas where meals may be served.
“We do this through the donations for the parish and we collaborate with the [Conneaut] food pantry,” Roach said.
Parish leader Nick Perkoski said the meal program is a ministry and is an extension of a bi-weekly soup kitchen.
Donations come easily for the Thanksgiving program, Perkoski said.
“It is wonderful. A lot of work went in to it,” said George Hlifka, of Conneaut, as he made his way through the line of turkey and all the trimmings.
Members of a motorcycle group that seeks to make a difference in their community helped serve meals in Conneaut. Tom “Bulldog” Altman of West Springfield is the president of the group and said they try to do a variety of service projects throughout the area.
“We’ve volunteered for the past three years,” he said of the dinner sponsored by Corpus Christi Parish.