Thanksgiving Community Banquet a success

November 24, 2018

Attendance was greater than expected Thursday during the annual Thanksgiving Community Banquet held at 1C Church with hundreds attending the free Thanksgiving meal.

“I really didn’t think we would run out of food,” event coordinator Regina McDuffee said. “Either I planned poorly or we have more people than we had planned on.”

Halfway into the meal, volunteers were scrambling to prepare more food. McDuffee said they were good on turkeys, of which they had 40 at their disposal, but had to run to to store to buy more salad and make more green bean casserole.

“We had three roasters full of mashed potatoes, and we’re making more,” McDuffee said. “I sure hope that’s enough.”

Last year the banquet served 530 people. This year, McDuffee said she was shooting for 600, which she believed was surpassed. McDuffee attributed the meal’s success to early promotion, like the distribution of event flyers by Meals on Wheels.

Thomas Frazier of Columbus was one of the many in attendance. He said he enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with friends and get some delicious turkey.

“I just want to be with my community and celebrate Thanksgiving day,” Frazier said. “People need to connect with one another. People are sometimes so isolated, they go to work and just go home and they don’t get out with the community, so this is a good chance to connect.”

About 75 people volunteered to help make the banquet possible. One of them was Jody Prorok of Columbus. She said this was her second year in a row working at the banquet. Prorok was joined by her sister, brother and other relatives. Last year, her mother, Marjorie Prorok, passed away, which she said was part of the family’s reasoning for helping out at this year’s meal.

“Both of my parents are gone, and my siblings and I decided to do something good, and that’s why we’re here,” Prorok said. “It’s nice to see everyone come and have a good meal, everybody’s happy about it.”

Josh Nelson of Columbus was also a volunteer at the banquet. The 16 year old said his two older sisters, mother and himself helped serve food and bus tables. He said he appreciated the opportunity to get out of the house and help others.

“This is my church and my family likes to help out, so we volunteer every once and awhile,” Nelson said.

Although it’s a lot of work, McDuffee said she’s been handling the stress quite well. Beside running short on some dishes, the event ran smoothly.

“I was stressed and anxious until this week started. And once it started on Monday and we started making pies and doing it, I was much better,” McDuffee said. “I hope they’re enjoying the fellowship and community and I hope they’re taking time to get to know their neighbors.”

McDuffee said meal wasn’t about her or anyone in particular, but for everyone. The goal of the event was to bring people together.

“It’s a community meal, it’s not a Regina meal, it’s not a this church meal, it’s a community meal,” McDuffee said. “Everybody knows who’s it’s for, what it’s for. All for the glory of God, not for the glory of us.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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