Thanksgiving doesn't have to be limited to sharing a feast with family, and by attending Apison Baptist Church's Thanksgiving dinner, people can help feed other families on a day-to-day basis.
The dinner, which is being held in the church gym Sunday, Nov. 24 starting at 5 p.m., is a fundraiser for the Apison Food Bank.
Apison Baptist took over operation of the food bank in July from another organization that was phasing out the program, which was low on funds. The church has held several fundraisers for the food bank since this summer, allowing the number of people served to grow significantly.
Before the church took over, the food bank was serving 300 families a week. In August, it served 500 families, growing to 751 families in September and 878 in October. The food bank is planning to serve 900 families this month, said Apison Baptist Church pastor the Rev. Macil Duncan.
Other congregations — Pine Hill Church of God and Apison Seventh-day Adventist Church — have also joined in to help run the food bank, he said.
Anyone is welcome to attend the Thanksgiving dinner, which includes turkey, dressing and all the fixings provided by the three churches. The meal is free, but donations for the food bank will be accepted.
The church hopes to raise $7,000 through the dinner, which would cover the food bank's costs through January and possibly February. Farm Bureau has offered to match donated funds up to $2,000, said Duncan.
The cost to feed one family for a day is about $20, he said. The church also covers rent and utilities for the space where the food is stored. Apison Baptist built a chapel to serve as a welcoming distribution site and marry ministry with the mission.
The food bank gives food to anyone in need on a first-come, first-served basis Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 3 p.m. in the new chapel. A message of hope is delivered during distribution hours to people served by the food bank, who also have the opportunity to pray with a minister, said Duncan.
"Every time it looks like the money is gone, God finds a way to help us feed people," he said. "We haven't had to turn anyone away yet. We've been blessed."
At the Thanksgiving dinner, the church will also collect donations of new and nearly new coats for students in need at Apison Elementary. A day in December will then be selected for parents to come and "shop" for coats.
People who are unable to attend the dinner can contribute to the food bank by donating nonperishables in the red barrels located at the three churches, or by sending a check made payable to Apison Baptist Church with "food bank" in the memo line to 11127 Old E. Brainerd Road, Apison, Tenn., 37302.
Email Emily Crisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.