By ROGER SCHNEIDER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Two groups in two local communities had the same goal Thursday — help others enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal.
In Goshen the Folk family teamed up with the New Beginning Sunday School Class and members of the First United Methodist Church for the 21st time to sponsor their dinner. In Millersburg, Pizza Depot owner Jennie Hile sponsored her first dinner out of gratitude for a new business venture coming together.
“We wanted to open up our dining room,” Hile said, “and God told me we would get the financing if we open up and served everybody.”
She was expecting about 300 people to stop in Thursday and had lined up family, friends and volunteers to take care of the crowd.
“It has been a blessing to the community and to us to have this,” she said.
The financing came in and Hile will expand her Pizza Depot business soon into the former laundry building next door on Jefferson Street. The new dining room is ready to go, and that’s where dozens of people from the Millersburg area sat down and enjoyed a meal served to them by volunteers.
Susan and Dana Mathews of New Paris scooped up some pumpkin pie from a tray being carried from table to table by Deb Carpenter. Carpenter arrived with the dessert before the Mathews’ friends had arrived, so they went ahead and took the offering.
“We thought we had better get it in case they ran out,” Dana joked.
Back in the pizza restaurant, a man who was at the end of the line waiting for his meal spoke up in appreciation. “Jen! This is a good thing you are doing,” he said.
“We have seen a lot of Thanksgivings,” said Phyllis Kurtz as her husband KW helped her toward their car outside Pizza Depot. “And this beats everything. We wouldn’t have had Thanksgiving except for this. It’s pretty nice. You can just get in your car and drive away and you don’t have to wash the dishes.”
In Goshen, the talk of thankfulness was the same, especially from the people providing the service.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Aimee Brinson, a childrens’ minster at First United Methodist. Her family, including her five children, spent the day helping dish up food, gather take-out meals for those who couldn’t attend and just do what was needed to be done.
Behind the long line of serving tables, Lewie Weaver, Garry Puffer, Shelly Tucker, Sally Stutsman, Nina Freel and Diane Bailey asked over and over, “What would you like?” and “What can I get you?
The parade of single men, young women with children, sometimes with grandma in tow, church members, families and those who just wanted to get out of the house and sit and talk with others, were helped by the servers and then filled the tables set up on the church gym’s floor.
“Some of these people are so thankful,” said Judy Weaver, also known as “Nana,” to her Folk clan and others.
Some of those eating Thursday also were treated with take-out meals for a snack that night. “A lot of them, it’s the only meal they have...” Weaver said.
Melvin Elliott, 88, has attended all 21 Thanksgiving meals. He is living at Greencroft and pronounced Thursday’s meal as “good.”
Betty Stengel and her son Brad Hanshaw greeted Elliott at the door and all the others who attended Thursday. She has gladly stood at the door for the past 13 years, saying “Hello,” or “Welcome,” and then adding “go down the hall and to the left.”
“It’s nice when people come back through and say ‘thank you’ and that they enjoyed the meal,” Stengel said with a big smile.