11/25/04 — Volunteers serve meals

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Volunteers serve meals

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on November 25, 2004 1:57 PM

While most of us are relaxing at home today with loved ones stuffing ourselves on turkey, candied yams and pumpkin pie, there are some people who have no relatives to share the day with and still others who don't even have food to eat.

Several groups in Goldsboro have been working for days to make sure everyone in Wayne County has a happy holiday with a complete Thanksgiving dinner.

This is the Soup Kitchen's 25th year of dishing up a Thanksgiving meal. Director Doricia Benton said 54 people ate there last Thanksgiving.

Latonya Rogers, cook-manager, is in charge of preparing the meal, which community volunteers serve. This year's menu includes turkey, creamed potatoes with gravy, string beans, yams and various pies. All of it has been donated by local groups and individuals.

Ms. Benton said Ms. Rogers began cooking 10 turkeys Monday. The meal is being served today from 11 a.m. to noon. The Soup Kitchen is located at the corner of Oak and James streets.

"It's a rewarding experience," said Ms. Benton. "I think the Soup Kitchen helps people in a lot of ways and not just the people it feeds, but also the volunteers who help. It gives you a reality check because this could happen to anybody.

"We don't ask questions when people come into the Soup Kitchen. If you come in the door, there's a reason."

Ms. Benton said the people of Wayne County are very giving. For example, she had a woman who sent in a love gift. "I called her to thank her," Ms. Benton said. "She said she had been down on her luck and had come to the Soup Kitchen and was fed. She was back on her feet now and wanted to give back what the Soup Kitchen had given to her."

Then there is one man Ms. Benton calls her "angel."

"He called me and wanted me to meet him at Sam's Club," she said. "He wouldn't tell me his name. When I got there, he said 'get a cart because I've got $600. Let's go shopping for the Soup Kitchen because you know what you need more than I would.'

"We filled up three carts.

"Two days later he called me back and said he had another $600 and we went shopping at Sam's again. The only thing I know about the man is that he's military."

The HGDC Community Crisis Center started cooking 18 turkeys on Wednesday. The Center is serving its Thanksgiving meal today at 1 p.m. Some meals are also being delivered to the homebound at noon.

Lorene Beamon, kitchen supervisor, said the center has been preparing a Thanksgiving meal for the past 20 years. Last year it served between 300 and 325 people. She anticipates about 250 this year.

Ms. Beamon cooks the meal while volunteers serve it.

This year's meal consists of turkey, ham, potato salad, collards, rice, cranberry sauce, string beans and an assortment of deserts. All the food has been donated.

"I thank everyone who has donated food," said Ms. Beamon. "If not for them, we wouldn't be able to serve these people a meal today."

She said she prepares the meal each year because it's "part of my mission. I believe it's the right thing to do to help others.

"The people who come to the Thanksgiving meal are so thankful. Some have even said they would not have any meal today if we weren't doing this."

At Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, around 500 active-duty military, retirees and their families are expected to attend the annual Thanksgiving feast prepared by the 4th Services Squadron.

Master Sgt. Robert Gillespie, who is in charge of military food service for the base, said the staff of around 40 people have been working on it since Monday.

The meal will be served today in the base's Southern Eagle Dining facility from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be roast turkey, steamship round of beef, baked ham, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, glazed carrots and peas, a big display of desserts and a salad bar. People will also enjoy ice sculptures and other food displays.

People will be able to go anytime between these hours. Different base commanders and first sergeants will be serving the food.

Gillespie said this is the biggest holiday event for the squadron. He said a similar event will be going on at every Air Force base. The goal is to make people feel at home, especially those who can not be with their families during the holiday. It also gives the base a chance to say thanks to the retirees in the area and to give them the opportunity to eat in the Southern Eagle Dining facility, which they usually do not have the chance to do, added Gillespie.