By RENEE FITE
Thanksgiving is a time to remember blessings, as well as those in need of food, friendship and assistance.
Tahlequah has many volunteers, and in this spirit, a free Thanksgiving a luncheon will be served Sunday, Nov. 18, at the Cherokee County Community Building from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 22, Thanksgiving evening, Feed My Sheep will host its weekly dinner, and other activities are planned during the week. The event will be held from 5-6 p.m., at the First United Methodist Church, and will feature pulled pork on a bun, baked beans, slaw and dessert.
“We learned last year, our first year, that our guests would like something else,” said Janet Stucky, coordinator of Feed My Sheep. “We will be serving a meal, but not a big, traditional Thanksgiving meal like we did last year. Others in town do provide those meals, with our gratitude to those who do.”
This Sunday, Nov. 18, at noon, the youth group at First United Methodist Church will serve an Angel Tree dinner of pork loin and fixings, and donations collected will be used to buy Christmas gifts for all children whose parents are incarcerated. There is no set price for the meal.
“We’re hoping people will be generous,” said Stucky.
The dinner is open to the public.
“We will also have the great desserts for people to bid on,” Stucky said.
The Ministerial Alliance will be hosting its Thanksgiving dinner Sunday, Dec. 18, at 6 p.m., at the 29/11 Assembly of God Church on U.S. Highway 62 East, said Rhonda Clemens-Hill, director of Zoë Institute.
“We’re also collecting blankets, coats and food to be distributed,” she said.
Mandy Shaw, a student at Northeastern State University, has created a Facebook event, “Whatever You Did For One of the Least of the Brothers,” to help collect donations for The Ministerial Alliance event.
Nick Howk, student pastor at Crescent Valley Baptist Church, said services are being canceled so about 200 members can serve the community of Tahlequah.
“This is our first time, and we’re so excited,” Howk said. “We’re trusting God for the results. We’ll shoot for a number and pray for more.”
They’re planning enough food to feed 1,000 people, he said.
“We’ll pray God will multiply our food, like he did with the loaves and fishes, and supply all our needs for everyone who wants to enjoy a meal,” Howk said.
The traditional meal will consist of turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, hot rolls, cranberry sauce and for dessert, pumpkin pie and banana cream pie.
They’ve done their best to advertise, with more than 5,000 invitations and flyers, banners, radio and newspaper ads.
“We want everyone to know about it,” Howk said. “God has given us a heart to reach out to Tahlequah and minister.”
Usually, they give out 10 to 20 meal baskets with a turkey and canned vegetables, but in a staff meeting, they considered what else they might do.
“We were vision casting, throwing out ideas and this one took, so we planned and did a lot of research,” he said. “Our church has responded in an amazing way. They’ve divided up the entire day into several areas, from drinks to serving to cleaning the bathroom.”
About 15 teams have been formed to serve that day, he said.
“Several organizations in the community offered to help, and actually, we turned them away,” Howk said. “It’s a blessing for people to offer to help, and for our church members to have it all handled.”
As a church, members want to meet people’s physical needs by providing good food, and their spirituals needs, too.
“Throughout the day, we’ll be sharing how much God loves them and how they can have a relationship with him through Jesus Christ,” Howk said.
Howk said he’s most excited to part of something that’s bigger than one person.
“Nobody else gets the glory but [Jesus], because we couldn’t do this without his guidance and leadership,” he said.
As Thanksgiving rolls into the Christmas season, Angel Trees will be out, so people can help children have gifts who would not otherwise.
Zoë Institute will be giving out their annual single mom Christmas baskets, said Clemens-Hill.
“We’ll have 20 baskets with food and gifts for selected families,” Clemens-Hill said.
To contact the Crescent Valley Church, call (918) 456-6590. To contact Zoë Institute, call (918) 453-9778.