Cottrell: Church to serve Thanksgiving meal to strangers

For the past five years, this group has prepared and served a free Thanksgiving meal to anyone in the community who needed a place to celebrate the holiday.

“It was a carry over from our time at Hope Lutheran (Church) in Springfield,” said Kramer. “We knew there were people without homes or no resources to provide the meal.”

Since the Kramer family already understood what it was like to not have a place to go for Thanksgiving after many years in the U.S. Air Force, the community dinner made all sorts of sense to them.

So five years ago when Kramer became pastor at St Andrew’s Lutheran, 7128 Stine Road, the couple celebrated Thanksgiving with about 20 guests. Last year the dining group had grown to a bit more than 70.

According to the pastor, every year there are new faces and some welcome repeats from the year before. They also have a growing list of volunteers who want to help. The Kramers and the people at St. Andrew’s are hoping for an even bigger gathering this year.

What will they do if the four turkeys and a ham are totally consumed and there are still people to feed?

“I think that would be a nice problem,” said Kramer, who intends to find a way to feed all who come to the church between noon and 2 p.m.

“To help us plan the food, we ask folks to RSVP if possible — some do, but many more just show up — and that’s just fine. Although late comers may not have the full food selection, we have never run out of food.” Kramer said in a release.

The church telephone number is (937) 864-2601. That number can also be used to coordinate donations and volunteers.

Kramer explained that in the past, they have been blest when people brought in extra food unexpectedly just as it was needed. Help during set up and clean up are especially appreciated.

However, Kramer’s main concern, when I spoke to him, was getting the word out. He wanted to be sure that the St. Andrew’s Thanksgiving invitation reaches everyone in the community who does not have friends or extended family nearby. He wants to invite all who do not have resources or equipment to prepare this traditional dinner. Guests can come dressed as they are, alone, with a friend, or with their family.

“What’s the catch?,” said Kramer. “There isn’t a catch. Come on in and enjoy the meal. We will just have a prayer before we eat.”

No worship service is planned since a Community Thanksgiving worship service will take place on Sunday evening.

“We simply wish to provide a place and time for folks to gather as family where they can enjoy a good meal in a safe, warm place — along with new and renewed friendships,” said Kramer.

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