Free dinner ‘not a handout, it’s a family Thanksgiving’

Since the Middletown Community Thanksgiving Dinner is held on the holiday, that means the more than 100 volunteers have to switch their schedules and some move their own family dinners to different days.

“That’s pretty awesome,” said Jeri Lewis, director of community development at Kingswell Ministries and organizer of the Thanksgiving dinner.

The dinner will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Nov. 22 at Breiel Boulevard Church of God, 2000 Riverview Ave. Lewis said more than 500 attended last year’s dinner, which is free and open to the public. She said Kingswell partners with City Gospel Mission, Hope House Mission, Tytus Avenue Church of God, Middletown Area YMCA and Breiel Church to host the event.

The dinner will include turkey, ham and “all the sides and fixings,” Lewis said. The meals will be prepared and served by volunteers, and any leftovers are packed by volunteers who load them into vans and deliver them throughout the community.

Those who attend the dinner are from “all walks of life,” Lewis said, including police officers, firefighters and first responders.

“It’s not a handout, it’s a family Thanksgiving,” she said. “It’s like peace on earth when we’re all co-existing and eating. It’s beautiful.”

She called the kitchen staff “a well-oiled machine.” They use about 10 cookers for the meat, potatoes and green beans, she said.

“It’s like your kitchen at home but bigger,” she said. “There is a sense of camaraderie, a sense of community.”

Since organizers never know how many will attend the dinner, Lewis said it’s impossible to plan the amount of food needed.

“God just provides,” she said. “The food is always there. We always have plenty,”

Besides food, there will be a coat and glove giveaway and hygiene items. There also will be a photo station.

There will be a drawing and one family will win an entire Christmas package, including presents and dinner for everyone in the family, courtesy of Kingswell Ministries.

This year, Lewis is being assisted by Michelle Hodge and Bethany Tompkins. She hopes to turn organizing the dinner over to them, she said.


Those who want to attend the Middletown Community Thanksgiving Dinner and need transportation can be picked up at the following locations and times on Nov. 22:

11:30 a.m.: Middletown Area YMCA, 1020 Manchester Ave.

11:45 a.m.: Wilbraham Road and Tytus Avenue area

Noon: Bus stop at South Main Street and McGuire Avenue

12:15 p.m.: Amanda area near Damon Park, 1500 Pershing Ave.

1 p.m.: Center of Hope, 1300 Girard Ave.

1 p.m.: Hope House, 34 S. Main St.

To reserve transportation from your home, call 513-649-9699

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