Sharing a Thankful Spirit With Others

Thanksgiving Family Meals for Those in Need

Article by Scott Davidson

Photography by Courtesy of Cedar Creek Catering

Originally published in Media City Lifestyle

In the fall of 2019, Chef CJ of Cedar Creek Catering, Paul Mickle of Media Food Bank, and Pastor Laurie Ann Rookard of Media First United Methodist Church met to discuss the annual Thanksgiving food drive.  In years past, the Food Bank had given out frozen turkeys.  Chef CJ, who had just signed a lease on the church’s hall offered to prepare free meals as a gesture to bring together the food bank recipients and the church congregation & their families, inviting everyone to come share a meal. In 2020, it became an annual event with much the same idea, but grew slightly as more folks knew about it.

Fast forward to 2023 and the “Community Thanksgiving”, as it’s called, is celebrating its 5th year. With donations of money and food from local residents, civic groups, churches and businesses, the event now serves over 600 people, growing steadily each year.

Under the direction of Chef CJ, the army of almost 80 local volunteers spend up to 200 hours of manpower preparing for the big day. Chef CJ shared that the coordinated effort between the church, food bank, fellowship house, and the volunteers is like commanding an army. And the list of food required could feed an army as well. 

This year we expect to prepare approximately 35-40 turkeys, 300 pounds of mashed potatoes, 300 pounds of glazed carrots, 200 pounds of green beans, 15 pans of stuffing, 10 gallons of gravy, and 10 gallons of cranberry compote. Not to mention the desserts,” explained Chef CJ.

The free meals are available to anyone who would like one. Take a meal to go or stay and enjoy with other pilgrims in the church hall.

The outreach from the community is what makes this special.  Many of the volunteers return year after year.  It’s heartwarming to see so many other families come together as a group.” according to Chef CJ.  The annual event has also been supported by Cavanagh Funeral Home, The William Holder Realty Group, Media Providence Friends School & Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, Linvilla Orchard, who donates produce, and t-shirts for volunteers from Palm Printing just to name a few.

This year the event is planned for Saturday, November 18th - the weekend before Thanksgiving.

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