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Church, high school offers Thanksgiving meals to those less fortunate

School isn’t in session and church isn’t in service on Thanksgiving, but both were busy as...
School isn’t in session and church isn’t in service on Thanksgiving, but both were busy as volunteers gathered to give out hot meals today.(WECT)
Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 4:28 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - School isn’t in session and church isn’t in service on Thanksgiving, but both were busy as volunteers gathered to give out hot meals today.

Organizers of Northside Church’s Feast of Hope event noticed that many organizations give out supplies like a frozen turkey and boxes of unprepared foods to those that can’t afford it, but many families are looking for an already prepared meal to sit down with.

Today, volunteers gave out and even delivered meals to those who need it the most.

Each family gets dinner, dessert and care packages filled with toiletries. Last year, they handed out 500 meals to those in the community. This year, volunteers doubled the number. Leaders say it’s important to give back and just as important to get kids in the community involved in helping others, too.

“I think they see the importance and see how they can help other people and it takes a moment to not think about yourself,” said Aja Winstead, a Northside Church member and principal with Pender County Schools. “You really can help out other families. I think it’s important for all students to see and be able to have that moment of humbleness.”

Heide Trask High School participates in the event every year, giving students a chance to give back to their neighbors. This year, 250 meals went out to anyone who stopped by the school for any reason.

The holidays are typically a joyful time but for some, it’s more bittersweet.

RAY WINSTEAD, NORTHSIDE CHURCH “A lot of them are, believe it or not, are homeless right now,” said Ray Winstead, who leads the men’s ministry at Northside Church. “Some of them don’t have family. It’s a difficult time for them right now.”

As volunteers handed out the meals, people often talk about the rough patch they’re facing. They find that people from all walks of life may turn up at the event.

“She’s feeding her family, her friends, her landlord-- and they’re all in need,” said Ray Winstead. “One is blind and of course, they can’t get out. One has a double amputee, they can’t get out.”

“She was like ‘I was trying to think what I could scrounge together although we really didn’t have anything,’ and she just happened to see it on the news,” said one volunteer.

Her family has been in their shoes before--too heartbroken on the holidays to fix a meal.

“A few years ago, my father-in-law passed away,” said another volunteer. “He passed away in November, so Thanksgiving was no fun.”

Now, they’re giving back to those who lifted them up in tough times.

“You never know who needs what,” said Ray Winstead. “I’m so thankful each one of [the volunteers] came out today, spending time to help. Without [them,] we can’t do it. We are the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Volunteers finished boxing up the hot meals at around 10:00 Thursday morning but were outside Heide Trask handing them out until about 1:00 p.m.. In total, they prepared 1,000 meals. In 2020, the group handed out only 500.

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