With the holiday season in full swing, eight Parkesburg churches have banded together in the spirit of showing how truly more blessed it is to give than receive. On Thanksgiving Day, volunteers from the Community Outreach of Churches will be passing out 80 - 90 Thanksgiving dinners to local residents, in addition to giving out ten baskets of supplies to families to cook their own dinners."Our church has done the meals for at least eight years now," said coordinator Judy Dougherty, from Parkesburg's First Presbyterian Church. She went on to explain that this year, after the program seemed in danger of folding, other churches came to help. "None of the churches wanted to see it stop, so we joined forces.
"The meals are passed out to those who are mostly spending Thanksgiving by themselves," she continued. "It's a good feeling when they call in and tell us, 'Last year's was so good.'" The baskets go out a few days before Thanksgiving, mostly to families. "Families that have no idea how they're going to have a Thanksgiving dinner," said Dougherty.
Volunteers work through Thanksgiving Day assembling both the baskets and meals. "It feels great to help," said volunteer Barbara Neuhauser, who also runs Community Outreach's Righteous House, where clothing can be acquired.
"It's an easy way to show your kids how to help," said volunteer Pam Supplee, whose children also help assemble and pass out meals. "It's not hard to be part of this loving network that helps other people."
As this is truly a community project, this year's baskets will be passed out by members of Girls Star from West Chester and Downingtown. Girls Star, created in 1997, is a mentoring program designed to teach "leadership, community service, and personal growth," said creator Sherry Rubin.
"It's a privilege for me being involved with Girls Star, and being involved with the girls as they serve," said Rubin.
"Before I came, I didn't know how much of a need there was," said Girls Star Amy Perri. "It's very emotional."
"I've been in Girls Star for three years. Doing all this makes me know I'm making a difference," agreed Girls Star Jessica Giera. "It feels great going out and helping the community and applying what I've learned in Girls Star."
"I'm so impressed by the coordinated efforts of all the churches and volunteers," said Reverend Phoebe Kitson-Davis of the First Presbyterian Church.
"Our church has a heart for caring for our neighbors and friends. It's part of our Biblical duty to care for all God's people," she continued. "We, as a church, have made a commitment to give as much as we are able."
"So many are in need, and we're going to try as hard as we can so they can have a holiday, too," said Dougherty.
The giving will continue through the holiday season. Kitson-Davis explained that the First Presbyterian Church has recently decided to have an unprecedented Christmas Eve "loose change" offering, which will be donated to the Community Outreach program.
"We are seeing a dramatic increase in our community for those affected by the economic crisis in our country. It's across the board - all ages," said Kitson-Davis. "It's been remarkable to see how everyone is pulling together in new ways to help each other in critical times."