By Angela Rogalski, senior Ole Miss print journalism major and Abbeville resident.
Email Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org
Oxford churches and Good Samaritan groups gear up to feed students, the displaced and the elderly this Thanksgiving
Turkey day cometh, and with it, all the stuffing, pumpkin pie and football that any hungry pilgrim could ask for.
For the vast majority of Oxonians, it’s a carefree holiday. But that’s not always the case for those who are displaced, for one reason or another, or unemployed, or simply without the means of providing that idyllic feast we associate with Thanksgiving.
Luckily for those without the comforts of extended family and home this Thursday, Oxford church and civic organizations will once again be sharing the bounty of the fall season.
St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church at 403 University Ave. is ready for the annual Thanksgiving dinner they host for students and others who find themselves far from hearth and home on Thanksgiving.
“This is our fourth year providing Thanksgiving dinner,” said Basil Richmond, church member and organizer of Thanksgiving Dinner at St. John’s, which will be served on Wednesday evening, Nov. 21, from 6–7:30 p.m. “We gear ours toward Ole Miss students who are stuck here for the holiday, either because they are international students, or simply couldn’t or wouldn’t be going home for the break. But, we definitely welcome locals or anyone else in need.”
Richmond said the church’s men’s organization, the Knights of Columbus, supplies the turkeys and the parish furnishes the trimmings to go with it.
“It’s a very worthwhile project for us,” Richmond said. “And it’s been a hit with the students as well.”
Over the River and Through the Woods
Interfaith Compassionate Ministries focuses on the elderly and disabled. For the past four years, Interfaith Director Lena Wiley has been delivering dinners provided by St. John’s the night before Thanksgiving. And she plans to do it again this week.
“I pick up enough dinners from Basil Richmond over at St. John’s to feed around 40 residents at Canterbury Crest complex,” Wiley said. “Canterbury is an apartment complex for the elderly and disabled. We have prayer first, and then I join them for dinner and fellowship.”
Thanks in part to Chuck Wagon Ministries, Interfaith also provides food to the elderly and disabled out in the community as well.
With volunteer Pat Forrester behind the wheel, Chuck Wagon delivers baskets of Thanksgiving goodies a few days before the holiday to Lena Wiley at Interfaith.
“My ministry provides Thanksgiving boxes, filled with a turkey and all the trimmings,” Forrester said. “I also try to put a week’s worth of substantial items in there as well. I think of the children and try to include oatmeal and cereal … things they will eat. I just delivered 21 boxes to Lena today.”
Forrester said her ministry was named in honor of her brother, Chuck, who passed away five years ago.
“A year after my brother died, I wanted to do something in his honor,” Forrester said. “I kept thinking, what can I do that would honor my brother? Then, it came to me. He had a big wagon that he had handmade and kept at his house. So, I decided what better way than a food ministry called Chuck Wagon.”
The funds for Chuck Wagon are donated by members of Forrester’s church –– Oxford University United Methodist.
“I’m the director of the children’s ministry there,” Forrester said. “The children help me pack and fill the boxes each year. It’s just a great way of teaching them what Thanksgiving is all about.”
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