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Blessings go back and forth at Some Other Place

November 22, 2018

Edgar Thompson deboned turkeys on Thanksgiving morning surrounded by people he didn’t know.

At Beaumont’s Some Other Place, it doesn’t matter who you are or who you know. On Thanksgiving Day, everyone from volunteers to the homeless has a seat at the table.

Thompson, along with several other volunteers, tossed turkey bits into plastic bags as they prepped for the Thursday morning meal. Thompson’s been a fixture at the nonprofit’s holiday feast since 2010, a year he said he felt lonely and depressed.

The Beaumont native said his dedication is rooted at the “spiritual level.” It’s better to be a blessing than to receive a blessing, Thompson said.

“Rather than staying home alone and feeling sorry for yourself, you can bless someone,” added Wayne Potter, who worked across the steel table from Thompson.

Some Other Place’s executive director Paula O’Neal said giving back works both ways.

Each year, the group receives more volunteers than it needs. At least 80 community members showed up around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, chopping onions, pouring drinks and cutting perfectly sized pieces of pumpkin pie.

The organization, which feeds the community every day except Good Friday and Black Friday, typically manages with only eight volunteers total.

But O’Neal never turns a volunteer away. Many join in because they don’t have family or friends to spend the holidays with. In years past, parents who’ve lost children and recent widows have served in the kitchen, she said.

Folks volunteer for myriad reasons. For some, it’s the giving. For others, it’s the holiday’s traditions.

“Thanksgiving doesn’t change,” O’Neal said of the classic meal with turkey and green beans and potatoes heaped on the side. “There’s something to be said about the status quo.”

Adraine Comeaux had a serious heart attack three years ago and said she felt lucky to be alive to serve on Thursday.

“It’s my first year here, but it won’t be my last,” Comeaux said, adding that it was “a joy” to see the crowd in the dining hall.

O’Neal estimated that about 400 people were served on Thanksgiving, about half via home delivery and the other 200 at Some Other Place.

Six-year-old Piper Runnels followed her mother closely in the dining hall as they weaved between tables and chairs, offering slices of pie and other desserts to guests.

The Runnels family has been volunteering on Thanksgiving Day since 2006, long before Piper was born. Her mother, Skylar, has been bringing Piper along to serve meals since she was 2, hugging Piper to the side of her body as they served meals together.

Skylar Runnels, who works with Child Protective Services, said it’s important for Piper to understand there are people less fortunate than her.

Charlie Snoek, the organization’s director of food and beverage, said “what we do can help somebody move forward.”

Some people left the building at 590 Center St. with more than just a warm meal. A woman who came to lunch on Thursday wearing a short skirt left wearing tights and a coat.

Snoek, who previously worked in the restaurant business, said he “discovered a long time ago that the Lord was training me all my life for this.”

phoebe.suy@beaumontenterprise.com

twitter.com/phoebesuy

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