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Making a meal a mission

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A group of 50 volunteers were to gather Tuesday night to peel and slice 440 pounds of potatoes and thaw and clean 76 turkeys for the Bridgeport First United Methodist Church’s annual Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday.

Those tasks were at the top of a long list of preparations for the 30-plus year tradition, which is 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Bridgeport High School commons area. The menu includes turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, a hot roll and tea or water.

HOLIDAY TRADITION – Members of the First United Methodist Church in Bridgeport fill takeout orders for their annual Thanksgiving dinner. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Tickets at the door are $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 10.

A committee comprised of Lisa Davis, Beverly Crisp, Laurey Stowe, Nancy Eaton, Brenda Kennedy and Shelley McComis began in August planning for the much-anticipated holiday event.

As the date approached, the committee gathered once a week until the week of the event.

Tuesday afternoon, they were off to Brookshire’s to pick up the 76 birds – already thawed and marinating – to leave simmering overnight in cookers church member John Crisp made for the occasion.

Inside the church, about 50 volunteers were assigned to peel, cut and sweeten the potatoes to roast on the cookers; bag 134 dozen rolls and slices of cakes; and portion in plastic cups 18 gallons of cranberry sauce.

On Wednesday morning, 15 volunteers – each armed with an electric knife – will carve the turkeys while a group of 10 others will begin moving items from the church to the high school.

At the school, volunteers will season and cook 72 gallons of green beans and make a few pans of dressing to supplement what members of the congregation signed up to bring – 45 pans in all. They will also make gallons of gravy.

“It’s all from scratch,” Beverly Crisp said.

Three shifts of volunteers will serve dinner to the 1,600 people expected. Crisp pointed out that most of those will actually be take-outs.

“We have more that take the meal carry-out rather than eat in,” she said.

Volunteers also deliver to members that are homebound or in local nursing homes.

Last year, the church served 1,528 dinners, down a little from 2011, when the total was closer to 1,600.

“It depends on the weather, the economy, if there’s something else going on,” Crisp said. “But the dinner usually gathers a good crowd.”

In addition to selling tickets, the church also disperses “mission tickets” to families in need through Bridgeport ISD schools and the church’s food pantry. The church also gifts tickets to businesses to thank them for their donations.

Although the dinner raises money for the ministries of the church, the event is a “mission” event in more than one way.

“It’s a way for us to reach out to the community – not only by providing meals to families that have fallen on hard times, but also because a lot of people say this is what gets them in the holiday spirit,” Crisp said “It’s good fellowship and a time for people to come together.”

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