Fellowship and a Thanksgiving Meal
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, a perfect combination of family, food and tradition. It is at its core the very definition of the fellowship that binds a community.
Yet for some, family and food seems in short supply; for some the memory of family tradition seems lost in the hardships of daily life. There is a void, a sense that on a day everyone should be celebrating what is best about life, not everyone has a seat at the table.
For the past five years Liberty Christian Fellowship Church in Colington has been that seat at the table. For four of those five years, Samantha Blackwell has ben the force behind pushing a few hundred meals out of the kitchen.
“We plan to feed over 300 people this year,” she said.
Energetic, strong-willed and very organized, Samantha first started serving Thanksgiving dinner at the church to give families a chance to regain lost memories. “Originally I started this because there’s so many people in the community that the recession hit and they couldn’t celebrate the way they used to,” she said.
But the concept has grown, evolved and included in the 300+ dinners this year is a mission to transport Thanksgiving beyond the dining room.
“Usually between 150 and 200 people will trickle in. Then we’ll go and feed the remaining,” she said. “Businesses that have heard we’re doing it, they have requested (us) to bring it in. Food Lion has 30 people working. We’re going to the hospital, we’re going to the jail.”
Watching the volunteers put the dinner together there is a sense that this is truly a team effort—and this year for the first time, Samantha had people working with her. In the past it was all her—not this year. “I generally had a team of five working with me this year.”
What seems to truly create the success of the day, though, is how the Outer Banks community has come together to support the church.
“The donations from the community are amazing. At least 85% of what we use has been donated,” Samantha said, then listed some of the larger donors. “Sugar Creek donated five 20 pound turkeys and dressing. Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe donated two trays of sweet potato crunch. Mama Kwan’s donated ham.”
“More than anything it gives people an outlet to help,” she explains. “They want to help ,they don’t know where or how to help. It gives everybody a place and to meet one another—and that’s businesses and the community alike.”
Although it is the community coming together, ultimately touching the individual and giving that one person hope and sustenance is where Samantha finds her joy.
“I got one message from yesterday from someone that sealed in the whole reason why I do this,” she recalled speaking on Thanksgiving. “It was a gentleman reaching out who was down on his luck and he has no family and no money to go anywhere. He thought he needed to work to come in and have a meal. But that’s not why we do this. We do this because they’re our guests. To give people that family that they don’t have. To let them celebrate the way they use to.”