Hunger & Health Coalition hosts Community Thanksgiving
For its 27th annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner, the Hunger
and Health Coalition will host a free dinner of traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green
bean casserole and sweet carrots.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, anyone is given a seat at one of the clustered dining hall tables at First Baptist Church on King Street in Boone.
Local businesses, including Woodlands Barbecue and Makoto’s, will be donating food for dinner. The coalition is asking for the community to donate desserts.
“The dinner stems from the homeless who couldn’t afford a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and people who didn’t have family members and wanted to share fellowship with others,” said Kim Winebarger, programs and services coordinator for the Hunger and Health Coalition. “It’s a communal thing. We see a lot of widows and widowers. That’s inspiring. Anyone can come take part in it.”
Last year, more than 300 people attended the dinner. This year, Winebarger expects up to 350. “Local musicians come play the guitar and make it really feel like Thanksgiving,” she said.
Judith Wolber, who often plays guitar at the county library and played for last year’s meal, will be performing again.
The Hunger and Health Coalition delivers meals within Watauga County to those who cannot attend the sit-down dinner.
Requests for deliveries should be made as soon as possible prior to Thanksgiving Day. To sign up for a delivered meal, call Winebarger at (828) 262-1628 to let her know the address and how many people will need a meal.
A food box will be set up for anyone who would like to drop off non-perishable food items. The Appalachian State University Mountaineers basketball team will be volunteering. The 25-member team and coaches will assist in delivering, preparing and serving meals, setting up and cleaning up on Thanksgiving Day.
Organizers ask more musicians and volunteers to call the coalition before joining for the day. “The more the merrier,” Winebarger said.
Winebarger, who has been with the Coalition for seven years, said she will never forget a Thanksgiving encounter with a mother and her children from the OASIS shelter.
“She had obviously been in a bad relationship, but she was able to come into a family atmosphere with her children,” she said. “She was teary-eyed and appreciative. That was three years ago, and it’s always stuck with me.”
With 27 to 30 percent of Watauga County living in poverty, Winebarger said volunteering or joining the dinner changes perspective on poverty.
“You see the community come together and afterward you see what a difference you can make,” she said.
Hunger and Health Coalition programs offer food, medicine and referrals to harbor those in crisis.
A donation of $100 to the coalition provides a meal for 30 people, 10 months of weekend snacks for 13 preschoolers or $1,700 of medicine.
The coalition’s Sharing Tree is a program for families to “adopt” other families over the holidays. The supporting families purchase the items on the “adopted” family’s children’s wish list and deliver the gifts with a holiday meal to the family’s home on Christmas.
The Hunger and Health Coalition is a member agency of the High Country United Way.
For more information, call the Hunger and Health Coalition at (828) 262-1628 or visit http://www.hungercoalition.com.