Chapel Hill’s Thanksgiving meal aims to provide sustenance for body and soul

BUCKHANNON – At Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Buckhannon, everyone is welcome for Thanksgiving dinner.

Organizer Diane Kimble, the church administrative assistant, said the idea for the Free Community Thanksgiving Dinner – scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 28 – came to her about six years ago.

During Thanksgiving Week, the Thursday meal replaces the weekly Wednesday meal.

“Our church has always sponsored a Wednesday night dinner for probably 14 or 15 years. It is just a community type thing we have every Wednesday at 6 p.m.,” she said.

Kimble said during the Wednesday night dinners, those attending may contribute to “free will offering” to offset the cost of the meal; however, a donation is not required in order to come to the meal.

“People come and if they can put something in the plate, that is fine. If they cannot, that is fine, too. We are not going to turn anybody away,” she said.

Prior to Kimble’s idea, the Chapel Hill UM Church did not offer a dinner on Thanksgiving week.

“It came to me, and I thought, ‘there is no one who is going to fix a Thanksgiving Dinner for those people who come on Wednesdays,’ so I decided we needed to do a Thanksgiving Dinner instead of a Wednesday night dinner. We do the Thanksgiving Dinner at the same time as we do our Wednesday Night Dinners – 6 p.m.”

At the Thanksgiving Dinner, it’s tradition for folks to come in and have a seat, and at 6 p.m. there is a prayer before everyone the meal is served.

The menu for the Thanksgiving Dinner is a traditional one that includes turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, apple sauce, hot rolls, drinks, apple pie and pumpkin pie.

“Our hope is to offer this meal to folks who would not otherwise enjoy a sit-down Thanksgiving Dinner,” Kimble said. “I had a call from one lady a week ago. She told me she would be having a surgical procedure the day before Thanksgiving. She said her husband is on crutches all the time, and so she said she would not be able to fix a Thanksgiving Dinner this year. I told her we would be able to bring her dinner.”

Kimble said there is a limited amount of deliveries available, but they’re reserved for people who are unable to leave their homes.

“Anybody is welcome to come, and it doesn’t matter if they can pay or not,” she said. “If they want to put something in the plate that is fine. If not, that is okay as well.”

Each year, the Chapel Hill UM Church Thanksgiving Dinner attracts between 50 to 100 attendees and Kimble said many factors, including the weather, influence how many people will come out to share the meal. Also, transportation may be an obstacle for some.

Typically, Kimble, along with her husband and daughter meet at the church early on Thanksgiving to prepare the food for the Thanksgiving Dinner.

“We do the bulk of the cooking and just spend the day preparing portions of the meal,” she said. “We usually have people who are not even affiliated with Chapel Hill UM Church who will call and offer their services to prepare, serve, deliver and clean up after the Thanksgiving Dinner.”

Every year, there’s volunteers from the church as well as community members who will be helping with the dinner. Kimble said no one who wants to help will be turned away.

“I would think, especially for cleanup, we could use some more help,” she said.

Anyone who would like to help may call Kimble at the church at 304-472-6904.

“Chapel Hill is a place where you can enjoy that meal, enjoy fellowship with others if you so desire, but everyone is accepted here,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you have money to pay or if you don’t. If you are homeless or if you are a millionaire – everyone is welcome and can come to the Thanksgiving Dinner.

“I want people to realize that besides the sustenance for your body, we hope that people will get the fellowship and acceptance you need.”

Chapel Hill UM Church is located at 88 S. Kanawha St. in Buckhannon.

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