Nacogdoches Thanksgiving unites community

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The familiar sound of electric knives is the first clue the annual Community Thanksgiving Service and Dinner in Nacogdoches is about to begin. (The service begins at 6pm with the dinner starting around 7pm at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Appleby Sand Road in Nacogdoches)

Another clue is when a carver yells out, "We got 5 or 6 turkeys out there guys." "We'll set them right here and as they need them they will come get them," instructs a volunteer as another freshly cooked turkey is delivered.

"I'm going to tell you something right now. This was the best tasting turkey," Don McCarley, a carver shared. A nibble here and there rewards volunteers. They're preparing a meal for more than 500.

Good cooks belonging to local churches donate the main course. Each church is asked to donate at least five turkeys. "I'm a member of Westminster Presbyterian church and I brought one of the five turkeys," Sarah Rogers said while dropping off her turkey. She waited for kitchen workers to give her turkey roaster back to her. "I need it for my Thursday turkey," she explained.

Then former mayor and economic developer Judy McDonald arrives. "I separated it from light meat and dark meat," McDonald said. Carvers respond with,"A true blessing, indeed." Before leaving, McDonald cheerfully offered a, "Ya'll need any help."

The Nacogdoches Community Thanksgiving is an event that make people want to help. It brings out the good in people. The Nacogdoches Ministerial Alliance promotes the service and dinner each year. Several pastors deliver short, but meaningful messages for Thanksgiving.

Then the ministers, representing all denominations, prepare to serve in a different fashion. Their prayer will be, 'God help me follow the directions of head cook and bottle washer, Martha Labitt. Labitt has been helping in the kitchen since the event began at least five years ago. "The ministers are comical because they say, 'Ok now,what is this? How do I do this?' And, of course, we give them a few instructions, especially with whipped potatoes," Labitt said.

The meal for which they will bless is a symbol of thankfulness. "We're wanting to give thanks to God for all the things we have," Deacon Gary Giese explained.  The people who attend tonight can, for the most part, afford to make their own meal. This isn't necessarily an event for the needy. Everyone recognizes by bringing the community together we all can give thanks together," Giese said.

The benefit is realizing your blessings extend farther than you realize.

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