Special to The Sun
Thousands of people turned out to enjoy the food, fun and fellowship of the annual Edmond Community Thanksgiving Dinner Thursday on the University of Central Oklahoma campus.
A rotating committee of area churches organizes the event, which serves thousands of meals free of charge to any and all comers.
“Some of us feel called to feed God’s sheep,” said Liz Laska, event supervisor of health and safety. “Others of us feel called to reach out to the lonely, and others just feel the need to help.”
This year’s dinner was hosted by New Covenant United Methodist Church, with the aid of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Edmond First Methodist Church, Southern Hills Christian Church and First Presbyterian of Edmond. In addition to these churches, the dinner was supported with around 400 volunteers from area churches and other groups, according to volunteer coordinator Biruta Harris.
“I think it is something basic, to be with people and to help other people,” Harris said. “To spread Christian charity and companionship to people in the community, we have people coming in from Oklahoma City to volunteer who have never volunteered before. This morning we had someone come in and say she just felt like doing something good today and drove up to Edmond to volunteer.”
For Laska, the importance of the dinner rests on the people it feeds, which includes the elderly, the impoverished and even UCO students with no place to go on Thanksgiving, each and every one of them with a story.
The story of one of those people, Bruce Winston, still brings Laska to tears.
“A few years ago, we had a man (Winston) whose wife had died and he started to come in and scrape dishes for us, and he did that for years and years,” Laska said. “Then we heard he had cancer and was very ill, but he insisted that he be allowed to scrape dishes on Thanksgiving. We gave him a chair and he was wonderful. He passed away before that Christmas. It was very important to him.”
“We have lots of stories like that,” she said. “People with someone in the hospital and they don’t know where to go for food and fellowship, someone whose home has burned down, students who are stuck here by themselves, we’ve even had people who have run out of gas on their way someplace else. They eat and someone takes them to a gas station and fills them up so they can get to where they are going.”