Residents line up at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on the 400 block of Pines Avenue for a hot Thanksgiving meal put out by community volunteers that included members of the Albany Police
Department and just plain folks eager to help out at the holiday.
ALBANY — The more fortunate spread their grace with a hot Thanksgiving Day feast to the unemployed, the disabled and the homeless at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Thursday.
“Many people are blessed and don’t realize what a gift it is to pick and choose what to fix for dinner,” said Nathaniel Clark, deputy chief of the Albany Police Department and co-chair of the “Feed the Homeless” volunteer group.
“There is the possibility that the people coming here would not have anything for Thanksgiving dinner. We can show we care and help as a community and as Christians by helping those less fortunate than we are.”
The spread for the dinner had turkey with cranberry sauce of course, but there was also baked chicken and sides of gravy, greens, green beans, rice and corn-bread dressing. One of the servers made it clear that it wasn’t corn-bread stuffing, as if some Northerner had prepared it.
“There is a great difference in corn-bread dressing and stuffing,” the server said without hesitation or elaboration, “and it is much better than stuffing.”
People by the hundreds entered the church hall from before 11 a.m. and continued past 2 p.m. The free dinner was set to serve at least 1,000 organizers said.
The organization’s co-chair LaNicia Hart, the downtown Expressations embroidery shop owner, said the dinner came from a conversation she had with Clark back in October.
“I see so many people who need a meal downtown,” Hart said. “We just decided we had to do something for Thanksgiving.”
The co-chairs got the word out for help to other businesses and organizations such as the police that donations and volunteers were needed. The word got out to the people some may call the salt of the earth for help.
The Sellers family volunteered all four of them. Mother Julie, her sons Ken, home for the holiday from Savannah, Jacob, a nursing student and daughter Meredith, also a college student, all pitched in to serve food, clean any mess and generally just add warmth and compassion to the festivities.
The warmth was valued by people who had plates piled high with turkey and that wondrous corn dressing.
“I really appreciate the time and effort people took to put this meal on.” said Ricky McClendon. “It is just so good to have somewhere to go and be with people at the holiday.”
Leading eight other residents to the Valencia Personal Care Center van, Jamell Karen Burke empathically summed up what each of her companions said as they left.
“Thank you. Thank you so much. The food was delicious. Thank you so much."