No place to go on Thanksgiving? An East Falls congregation is providing neighbors with food, fellowship and other comforts on Thursday.
The East Falls Presbyterian Church will be hosting its first-ever Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday for students and other community members who will not be able to share the holiday with family or friends. From noon until 2 p.m., guests can partake in a traditional Thanksgiving meal with all of the trimmings.
Everything will be home-cooked, said Katherine Rick-Miller, pastor of the EFPC, from the half-dozen turkeys to the sides that are being donated by congregation members and neighbors. Together, she hopes to target a different population than those already served by charitable organizations.
“It’s to offer a welcome table to people who don’t have a home to go to,” she explained. “It’s a different niche.”
The idea was presented this summer to EFPC leadership by a congregation member who once participated in such an event during a transitional phase in her life. As fall approached, the idea continued to gain momentum, culminating in an advertisement placed in The Fallser, East Falls’ community newspaper.
Almost immediately, several calls were fielded by the church from neighborhood residents who were interested in participating, either by volunteering for the meal or by providing food items for it.
“It was completely unexpected,” said Rick-Miller.
In addition to the personal experience of members of her congregation, Rick-Miller offered a scriptural basis for service, referencing a passage from the Gospel of Matthew.
“The disciples asked Jesus when they had seen him hungry or as a stranger and not given him food or welcomed him. Jesus replied, ‘Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'”
“It’s a way to live this out,” she said.
Thanksgiving throughout Northwest Philadelphia
While perhaps the newest entry to the field, the EFPC’s meal is just one of several formal and informal Thanksgiving offerings in the Northwest.
The Manayunk Brewery will be kicking off efforts on Wednesday by providing food baskets to 1,000 local families. In its seventh year, the “Give Thanks” program at Manayunk Brewery has expanded this year to feed 250 families of four and has donated 700 lbs. of turkey, and more than 500 lbs. of green beans and 500 lbs. of potatoes.
On Thursday, Face to Face Germantown, a non-profit human service organization, is expecting to serve more than 200 men, women, and children a traditional holiday meal. Anyone wishing to help can drop off a cooked and sliced turkey at Face to Face’s dining room on Wednesday, Nov. 27 or Thursday, Nov. 28 between 9 a.m. to noon. It’s located at 109 East Price Street.
Also in Germantown is the New Beginnings Pentacostal Church (502 E. Haines St.,) which will be serving an open meal from noon to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Rachel Falkove, executive director of the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Northwest Philadelphia, observed that there has been a steady stream this year of organizations and individuals wishing to be paired with those in need of assistance for Thanksgiving. In fact, the EFPC plans to host several families from the NPIHN at its meal on Thursday.
In addition, Falkove said that almost a dozen individuals have walked in off the street to donate turkeys for NPIHN to distribute. It’s a welcome act for both staff and the recipients.
“It’s little efforts like this that are significant,” she remarked.
Getting ready for Turkey Day
At present, most of the plans for the meal in East Falls are in place; Rick-Miller noted that it was helpful to have a corporate chef in her congregation.
She said that there was an “abundance” of volunteer help, but they won’t turn away anyone willing to pitch in with set-up, serving or cleaning. Preparations will begin at 10 a.m., with cleanup expected to conclude by 4 p.m.While not required, guests are asked to make reservations with the church. Anyone who wishes to participate can call the church office at 215-848-6232 or visit www.fallspres.com.
As of Tuesday, the only registered guests were the families from IHN, but Rick-Miller is both casting a wide net and taking a long-term view of her church’s newest ministry.
“We’re preparing for a small crowd, but plan to keep doing it next year,” she said. “My congregation saw it as being a first year to build upon, and I really appreciated that.”
Know of Thanksgiving meal for your Northwest neighbors in need of comfort or companionship? Add it to the comment section below.