Heavy rain and cold temperatures could not slow volunteers from Clayton, Selma, Micro and Kenly in their efforts to serve a Thanksgiving meal to hundreds of needy families in Johnston County.
Serve the Need in Johnston County held the third annual Thanksgiving meal Nov. 27 at the Clayton Civitan Club building. The free sit-down meal drew more than 1,000 people.
As individuals, families and group home residents flowed in from the blustery and nearly freezing wet weather, most expressed gratitude for the early meal.
Kimberly Anton of Wilson’s Mills came to Clayton with her husband and their seven children. “It’s a wonderful thing that you’re doing,” she said.
Three generations of one family – Kari Johnson, Edith Kari and Kayden Ferrer – enjoyed the meal. “The food was delicious and a real blessing,” Johnson said.
Volunteers showed cars where to park and as served greeters, servers, runners, takeout baggers, translators, cooks and setup and cleanup crew.
Some diners were overheard praising the courteousness of Clayton High School Junior ROTC members, who helped park cars. “They did a yeoman’s job assisting throughout the day, especially helping the elderly and disabled in, although they were drenching wet and cold from the rain,” said Sandy Ross, a Serve the Need member and volunteer.
The diners included students and their families from the Backpack Buddies, the mentally challenged from group homes and the elderly and physically disabled, many of whom entered with the help of wheelchairs and canes.
Volunteers also delivered meals to residents of Harbor House and to local nursing homes. Excess food, amounting to another 1,000 meals, went to Edgerton Memorial Methodist Church in Selma, which served a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, and to Micro Free Will Baptist Church, which served a meal on Friday.
The Thanksgiving meal represented nearly six months of planning and participation by some 75 volunteers from churches, civic clubs and businesses.
Dr. Norwood Williams is the founder of Serve the Need and an organizer of the annual Thanksgiving event. “This year’s event was the best planned and most successful of all,” he said, giving credit to to the many community sponsors and volunteers. “It was a great fellowship to those needing and deserving of sharing a sit-down Thanksgiving meal with their families amid the warmth and friendship of caring and loving volunteers.”