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Thanksgiving a community effort in Arbutus

Bob Bothe, chairman of Missions & Outreach at Holy Nativity Lutheran Church, works at his desk with extra items for the church's food pantry stacked all around him. Volunteers at the church will assemble bags with Thanksgiving food items for those in need.
Bob Bothe, chairman of Missions & Outreach at Holy Nativity Lutheran Church, works at his desk with extra items for the church's food pantry stacked all around him. Volunteers at the church will assemble bags with Thanksgiving food items for those in need. (Photo by Nate Pesce)

Feeding those in need for Thanksgiving is a community effort in Arbutus and Lansdowne, where turkeys, cranberry sauce and all the fixings are available through food pantries and group meal offerings at local churches.

While many local churches run food pantries open to the needy throughout the year, many families often need a little extra for the holiday season.

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In Arbutus, Holy Nativity Lutheran Church is giving turkeys and boxes of food to 21 families in need identified by guidance counselors at Arbutus Middle, Relay Elementary and Halethorpe Elementary schools, said Bob Bothe, 70, chairman of mission and outreach at the church.

"Each person that comes to the pantry — they are so very grateful that we are able to make their Thanksgiving meal possible," Bothe said. "It's a very special day."

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They have seven additional turkeys that will be given out to families in need, Bothe said.

The church has been offering the holiday assistance for Thanksgiving for four years, and this year will also offer the food assistance for Christmas, Bothe said.

It's part of an ongoing food ministry at the church that provides food assistance year round, Bothe said.

"People didn't believe there was a need for this type of program in their community," Bothe said. "But there is one."

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It's a partnership that Denise Campbell, guidance counselor at Relay Elementary School, said has been helpful for families at the school.

"I really value Holy Nativity. It's been a great partnership — it's the kind of thing that, if I need help, I can call and they will help me out," Campbell said.

The school has been receiving Thanksgiving assistance for families from the church for four years, she said.

"It's been very well received by our families and it's very confidential," Campbell said. "We do it very discreetly."

"That's the struggle when you have a community where you have some folks who are just above the poverty line because there aren't a lot of the resources for them," Campbell said, adding that the enrollment at the school has increased and the demand for resources has "tripled" in the process.

"This is a nice connection because the families can be partnered up with resources," Campbell said.

At Lansdowne United Methodist Church at 114 Lavern Avenue, volunteers will be preparing a free meal on Nov. 26, the day before Thanksgiving, which will be served from 5 to 6 p.m.

Carry out meals will also be delivered to those who can't travel to the church, said Betty Cain, a member of the church who volunteers to organize the weekly meals.

Meals will be also delivered to seniors at the nearby Kessler Park and Coursey Station apartments, both Catholic Charities senior communities, Cain said.

They will cook between 16 and 20 turkeys, in addition to mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, stuffing, green beans, gravy, sweet potato and apple pies, Cain said.

"There are a lot of people who live alone and we even have some homeless people in the area and it's a good hot meal they can have," Cain said."Times are tough out here. Most of these people — their income is very limited and some don't have families."

Those looking for a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, Nov. 27, will find one at Arbutus United Methodist Church from noon to 3 p.m. on china at 1201 Maple Ave.

Still, the high cost of a special holiday meal has made it hard for some churches as well as families.

St. Clement Roman Catholic Church is unable to offer anything special this year, said Tim Walsh, former operations manager for the church's food pantry.

"We're budget limited," Walsh said.

The church will offer its normal food pantry service on Saturday, he said.

"Trying to do stuff on Thanksgiving is tough," Walsh said. "Turkeys have gotten a bit expensive."

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