Commonwealth Journal

November 28, 2013

Living Bread Soup Kitchen Thanksgiving meal feeds over 530 Pulaski countians

by Heather Tomlinson
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — Another Living Bread Soup Kitchen Thanksgiving meal is in the books, and nearly 530 needy souls were fed through its volunteers’ efforts this week.

 Gina Gaylor, who has operated the soup kitchen since it began around five years ago, said at last count Tuesday evening, 528 people had come through the doors of the Somerset Mission looking for a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings — think turkey, green beans, casserole, mashed potatoes, rolls, carrots, corn, and some 500 deviled eggs.

“It has steadily grown,” said Gaylor. “This is definitely by far the biggest crowd we’ve had.”

And what a crowd it was. At some points during the evening, the dining room was so crowded that seating was hard to come by. The line for the dinner, served by volunteers from local churches and a local girl scout troop, stretched out the door at times.

But the atmosphere was a positive one.

“It was an experience,” said Gaylor. “It was like everybody kind of had a jubilant spirit about them.”

The food supply held steady throughout Tuesday evening, and Gaylor said they were even able to deliver turkey, mashed potatoes and green beans to Bethany House after the dinner.

The Living Bread Soup Kitchen’s weekly dinners — and Thanksgiving and Christmas meals — provide ample opportunities for volunteers. It seems as if the experience is just as fulfilling for the helpers as it is the needy families searching for a meal.

“It makes you feel good and you’re giving back to the community,” said volunteer Nora Hamlin. “You always see somebody who is a little worse off than you are.”

Gaylor is already looking forward to the Christmas dinner, and she expects they’ll cook for at least 500 people as the Christmas meals tend to be larger than Thanksgiving dinners. Gaylor said she’s working with local businesses to bring in donations for food, and she’s hoping to have ham.

And she’s hoping volunteers can extend that reach to others in the community through deliveries to shut-ins, also known as those who can’t leave their homes due to physical or mental disabilities.

“It’s something new,” she said. “We want to keep a broad vision, and (we’re) always adding to (it) as God supplies.”

The Living Bread Soup Kitchen’s Christmas meal is scheduled for Dec. 17 from 5-7 p.m. at The Somerset Mission by Big Lots.