What started just four years ago as an effort to bring some semblance of a Thanksgiving meal to a few homeless men living behind the Kroger store on Ga. Hwy. 5 in Douglasville, has become one of the most successful annual missions of the Crossroads Church.
Jane Whitaker, who organized the Thanksgiving ministry mission and works with the church’s mission’s leader, the Rev. Michael Wahl, in coordinating the volunteer effort to prepare and serve a Thanksgiving meal for the needy and homeless, said their goal this year is to serve 1,500 meals.
“It has gotten out through word of mouth that we were preparing Thanksgiving meals for the needy and the effort has drawn more and more people that we can help,” she said.
“We always end up with more people seeking a meal than we expect,” Whitaker said.
Although it is a successful mission, there is a downside to it.
“The influx of people taking part reflects that there is a segment of the Douglasville and Douglas County population that is in need or homeless and that segment is growing,” Whitaker said, adding there are many more homeless and needy now than when the mission program started.
One element of the program church officials emphasize is that the free meals come with no strings attached, such as a requirement to join Crossroads Church or participate in prayers of thanks for the meal, Wahl said..
“Our only hope is that, through this program, we can show these people the love of Christ, and that people do care about them, not only on holidays but throughout their lives,” Wahl said.
The turkey for the Thanksgiving meals offered by the church are donated by the Landmark restaurant and arrive having already been smoked.
The turkeys are then taken by church members to the Bankhead Diner on U.S. Hwy. 78, which donates the use of its kitchen for meal preparation.
There, more than 100 Crossroads Church members voluntarily spend much of their own Thanksgiving preparing these meals for the less fortunate.
“Our volunteers get to the diner at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving and start cooking,” Whitaker said.
“After the meals are cooked and put in containers, they are distributed to five locations, where we deliver a total of about 800 meals,” Whitaker said.
Wahl said, “On a daily basis here at the church, we have more than 40 people to come to the church for help and we do all we can to assist them.”
For more information about the Thanksgiving meal program of the Crossroads Church, call (678) 370-0555.