Those looking for a hot meal and warm fellowship this Thanksgiving found it today at the Community House in Cornelia where dozens of volunteers hosted a free dinner this afternoon.
The event started at 11:30 a.m. and by noon, volunteers had already served more than 300 people, with hopes to serve 500. Cornelia Fire Chief and pastor Billy Joe Jenkins, who helped organize this event for the fourth straight year, says many people told him that without this event, they wouldn’t have had a meal to eat on Thanksgiving.
The Cornelia Fire Department came out to work alongside their chief, too, helping prepare meals for women at the Lee Arrendale Transitional Center and assisting with deliveries.
They cooked dinner for, and delivered to, 150 women at the Lee Arrendale Transitional Center and delivered meals to people in Habersham and White counties.
“It’s a coming together of all types of people, and getting the understanding that to serve is the best gratification that you can have,” volunteer Etta Lilly of Cornelia says. “A lot of people are ashamed and don’t want to say they don’t have food, especially at the holidays, but this is a good way to reach out.”
“It’s about bringing a sense of connection to the community, I think we’re definitely doing that,” says volunteer Taymonia Jackson of Hartwell. “More [people] come out every year, so we’re hoping that this continues to grow because it’s needed. People need to feel a sense of […] care.”
Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, seating at the Community House was limited. Most people who turned out in Cornelia got their meals to go.
Chief Jenkins expressed his desire for the dinner and, based on the interest and turn out, he seems to have gotten his wish.
“I would like for this event to be a really uplifting [event] for people in the community,” says Jenkins. “Whether they don’t have means of getting to have a decent meal, or whether they have a decent meal and they still want to be part of something bigger, my wish is for folks to be able to know that we just want to give food away, and show them that we care.”