Church hosts dinner for those in need
HUNTINGTON — For more than two decades, Trinity Episcopal Church has joined other local churches, nonprofit organizations and community volunteers on Christmas Eve to provide dinner, caroling and decorations galore to those less fortunate.
“Over 20 years ago, we wanted to do church outside our walls and do ministry to support those hungry at Christmas,” said Chip Graves, rector at the church. “It was decided to host a Christmas Eve dinner, which started out as a small gathering.”
The historic church started in Huntington in 1869, according to Graves.
“Being at the center of downtown Huntington and being so closely located to the City Mission and other support systems for those in need, we realize we need to reach out to those in need as well, especially over the holidays,” he said. “This Christmas Eve, more than 500 men, women and children will be served.”
Graves says food preparation begins days earlier and goes until the last meal is served.
“We hope to ease some of that pain during this time of year by welcoming the needy and giving them a chance to experience God’s love/′ Graves said. “Jesus taught us to love and to care for everyone. This is one small gesture.”
Graves offered individual blessings to those who wished as they entered before guests sat down to be served turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, dessert and more.
Heather Stapleton, of Huntington, said she has been coming to the holiday celebration for the past three years.
“This really helps those that need it at Christmas time,” she said. “It’s more than just dinner—it brings the Christmas spirit to so many people that really need it.”
Graves said many of those attending have very little.
“They are shown respect, listened to and provided an opportunity to feel the joys of the holiday,” he said.
In addition to dinner and caroling by the Trinity Choir and friends, guests also received warm clothing, along with a visit from Santa for kids of all ages.
“This is what Christmas is all about,” said Travis Lemon, co-owner of Tulsi at The Market in downtown Huntington, who was one of the many volunteers helping at the event. “Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community. It’s really an honor to be able to serve people in need during this giving time of the year.”
Graves said multiple partnerships make outreach events at Trinity possible.
“Many of Huntington’s local churches, the City of Huntington, Marshall University’s medical outreach team and several local nonprofits have provided much needed support, and the coordination of this dinner event is led by a core team of Trinity church members,” Graves said. “We are in a world of challenging times right now. People want to seek out the good news, and that good news is that there are people in our communities that want to help others. This event is one example of it.”
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