Unable to spend Thanksgiving with his two grown children and grandchild, Larry Newsom joined hundreds of other Edmondites at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.

Newsom, a two-time Edmond resident, said he enjoyed the friendliness of the volunteers who put on the dinner and the fellowship with others sharing his table.

Debbie Hawk, a single mother, brought her young daughter and one of the girl’s friends to the dinner.

“We don’t have a lot of family here to celebrate with,” said Hawk, who was also attending the dinner for the first time.

Newsom and Hawk were among more than 1,000 people who were expected to eat Thanksgiving Dinner at this year’s 24th annual Edmond Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

The menu included turkey, ham, dressing, soup, potatoes, corn, green beans, fruit salad and pie.

Sandra Owens and her family have been volunteering at the dinner for about six years — a tradition the family started when their children were in high school.

“We wanted them to have the experience of serving others,” Owens said. “Our family has been very, very blessed.”

A kindergarten teacher at Northern Hills Elementary School and a member of Waterloo Road Baptist Church, Owens said the dinner is always a place where she sees people she knows — either former students or people from her church.

“It’s such a happy place to be while you’re here,” she said.

As a mother, Owens is thankful this year that her son, David, returned safely from a tour of duty in Iraq.

“I love the fact that when we say the Pledge of Allegiance we have ‘one nation under God’ in there, and that we have God’s name on our coins,” Owens said. “I believe it blesses us individually and as a nation when we honor him.”

While Owens is thankful her son returned home safely from Iraq, volunteer Eric Young is thankful he hasn’t yet be deployed.

The Army second lieutenant from Lawton spent Thursday volunteering with his parents, who are members at Holy Trinity.

“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Young said of the dinner. “But it’s big.”

Siblings Austin, 11, and Jade Elliott, 13, served as greeters for the dinner, welcoming people as they came into the church and directing them to the room where the meal was served.

Both said they were thankful to God for giving them life and for taking care of their family,

“I’m thankful that we can help others come to know God,” Jade Elliott said.

Mike Laska, a member of Edmond’s First Presbyterian Church, has volunteered to work at all 24 dinners.

First Presbyterian hosted the first community dinner in 1981, and will host the 25th annual dinner next year, Laska said.

“It’s such a heart-warming experience to see these people come from all walks of life simply to enjoy fellowship together,” Laska said recently.

To feed all the guests, First Presbyterian cooked 80 turkeys and 200 pounds of ham.

Other Edmond churches contributed to the dinner as well.

St. Monica’s Catholic Church provided the potatoes and sweet potatoes, New Covenant United Methodist Church prepared the bread stuffing, Peace Lutheran Church provided the cornbread stuffing and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church mashed the potatoes.

Other churches helping with the dinner were Southern Hills Baptist Church, First Christian Church and First United Methodist Church.

(David Hartman may be reached via e-mail at dhartman@edmondsun.com.)

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