A place at their table
By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 24, 2011 5:09 AM
Merrion Spruill, with Hooks Road Missionary Baptist Church, places pumpkin pie out Wednesday at the Bear Creek Missionary Baptist Association's Thanksgiving.
"It's good," 8-year-old Zamya Pixley said as she took a big bite of ham while watching little sister Zatiyia Weaver, 6, gobble down the last of the rice on her plate.
"I like the ham best," Zamya said. "I came here before. I like the people because they help me."
Zamya said this Thanksgiving she is thankful for her family and the people who provided the free meal and that one day she wants to be one of the people who helps others.
The sisters were among the crowd enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal Wednesday at Bear Creek Missionary Baptist Association's Outreach Ministry on South Slocumb Street.
It was the first time that Emily D. Porter, who said she had read about the meal in The News-Argus, had attended the annual dinner.
"I will read it (newspaper) again today and see who is serving tomorrow," she joked. "It's great. It's great to be able to sit down at my age (63) and the pain that we go through, it is nice to be able to sit down and eat and not have to cook.
"Everybody is wonderful. Everybody is real nice since we have been here. One thing to be thankful of is that God spared your life so that you can see another year, then again we should be thankful for people who are concerned enough to take time out of their schedule to come and fix food for us."
Along with the meal, the fellowship was enjoyable as well, she said.
This was the eighth year that the Rev. Marshall Thompson and Bear Creek Missionary Baptist Association's Outreach Ministry have sponsored the community meal for the needy.
"We started out just serving the folks in this area here, but it has spread and we do it for the entire county and surrounding areas -- anyone who is in need and wants a full meal. All of this is donated to us.
"Most of the people you see are volunteers. In my ministry there are only about eight people. The rest of those who come in volunteer. We go to churches and businesses and they donate items to use. Different organizations in this area donate to us. So it is no money out of pocket."
Extra food is bagged and given to those at the meal so they can have a meal on Thanksgiving Day.
The meal includes a brief message from the Word of God, but those attending are not "badgered," Thompson said. However, many will often come over and want to talk, he added.
"It makes me feel good when I see families come -- the husband and the wife and their children," he said. "It seems like they really appreciate it."
It is held the day before Thanksgiving so that his volunteers can spend time with their families.
Normally, enough meals are prepared to feed about 200, but this year 300 were prepared because of more advertisement, he said.
No one seemed bothered that the event was a little late getting started.
"Normally school is out on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but this year there was a half a day so the children don't get out of school until 1," Thompson said. "So we are waiting for the families to bring their children in, when you see that you will see them walking across that field in droves (from the nearby apartment complex) and it makes you feel good to see them coming out of the projects."
Thompson's sister-in-law, Cheryl Thompson, has volunteered for the past four years.
"I just always want to get a chance to give back to the community," she said. "I usually bring my kids, but they are in school, so that they can see volunteer work -- it makes you feel good just to able to help somebody who may be a little less fortunate than you are.
"It gives you a good feeling. I enjoy talking to people. I just like to make people feel at home and feel welcome. Sometimes they smile and that can make somebody's day."
She said it also makes her feel good when children who attend the ministry's events recognize her in public and wave or talk to her.
"It makes you feel good that you have had a positive influence on kids," she said. "To let them know you can give back, you can do what you can. You don't have to be rich to give back."
Volunteer Andre Elliott, 15, a student at Wayne Early Middle College High School, agreed.
"I understand there are people in the community who need help and I love to help so I want to come out and help those who need it," he said. "It is fun to me to be able to help someone in need. It is a joy."
He encouraged others his age to volunteer. "You get to see those in need and it helps you to become more appreciative of what you have," he said.