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Holiday dinner canceled

Wesley United Methodist Church urges people to help out in other ways

by Olivia Murray

  Wesley United Methodist Church’s annual community Thanksgiving dinner may be canceled this year, but there are still Morgantown residents in need and plenty of ways to help them.

In the past, the dinner  served four main groups of Morgantown residents: the elderly, the homebound, the homeless and first responders. While the dinner’s primary function is to serve those in need, anyone was welcome to attend, according to organizer Karen King.

“The dinner is for anybody, and we have lots of just regular people who come,” King said.

At the first community Thanksgiving dinner, held in 2008 according to King’s estimation, 29 meals were served. Last year, volunteers served a total of 757 meals, including those delivered to homebound individuals and first responders.

There will be no meals served this year.

“People are disappointed, but they understand,” King said. “…There was just no way we could figure it out without potentially hurting somebody.”

That’s because of the ongoing pandemic.

King said  a secondary purpose of the dinner was to make individuals in need feel comfortable and safe while  enjoying a meal  prepared for them. King and the volunteers decorated and socialized with the individuals in attendance.

King recognized Chili’s as one of the dinner’s biggest supporters and sponsors over the past 11 years. King said  the restaurant  donated paper products and cooking materials to the dinner, which prevents the organizers of the dinner from being a “financial burden” on Wesley United Methodist Church.

Many of the residents the dinner usually served still need help, perhaps now more than ever. King encourages those who are able to help to find a way to do so despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic this holiday season.

Members of the church have donated to the Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels and Community Kitchen, all of which are organizations with local factions that anyone can donate to.

“I would hope that some of the people would check with places like Friendship Manor and some of the other senior living places to see if there are guests in their places who need something, because a lot of them live alone,” King said.

King suggested that trying to continue the tradition of the community Thanksgiving dinner by delivering food or other supplies to the elderly in assisted living communities would be “the most unselfish thing to do” this year. She also said  it would be beneficial for residents who have significant leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner to donate those to individuals in need.

 King is hopeful  some Morgantown residents will “adopt” seniors who have no one else to share a meal with.

Individuals or groups interested in adopting a senior to care for during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons should contact Mary Miller, the office manager at Wesley United Methodist Church, by calling 304-292-9485.

Miller, who assists with the community dinner each year, keeps track of individuals who need meals and can match those interested with a senior in need.

“I am honored to be part of this. It is creating a sense of community, and we’ve been very fortunate,” King said.

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