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Volunteer Debbie Rizzuto talks with guests -- from left -- Victor Disbrow, Ryan Reynolds and Dan Hilliard, all of Aberdeen, during the Hope in Action ministry's 10th annual community Thanksgiving dinner Sunday at the Bel Air Armory.
Volunteer Debbie Rizzuto talks with guests -- from left -- Victor Disbrow, Ryan Reynolds and Dan Hilliard, all of Aberdeen, during the Hope in Action ministry's 10th annual community Thanksgiving dinner Sunday at the Bel Air Armory. (David Anderson/The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Robert Crothers has been a member of Central Christian Church since Easter this year, volunteering with the church’s Hope in Action ministry when it provides meals to people in need after Sunday services at the White Marsh-based church’s satellite campus at the Bel Air Armory.

“I get to do this,” he said of his volunteer work. “Giving back, it’s been so rewarding and I look forward to it each week.”

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Crothers was on hand Sunday afternoon, one of a number of church members and community volunteers who helped put on Hope in Action’s 10th annual community Thanksgiving dinner at the Armory.

The Havre de Grace resident stopped by a table to chat with guests Victor Disbrow, Ryan Reynolds and Dan Hilliard, all of Aberdeen. Crothers had invited them and a number of other people to the event.

“People don’t have to pay for it,” he said of the dinner. “All they have to do is show up.”

About 100 guests attended Sunday; the dinner at the Armory typically precedes other community Thanksgiving meals such as the annual dinner in Havre de Grace. That gathering, the 31st annual, is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day in the Havre de Grace Community Center at 100 Lagaret Lane. Meals will be served in house from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the community center.

Meals are also available through delivery by volunteers. Anybody who wants to place an order can contact Don Osman, chair of the Thanksgiving dinner committee of the nonprofit Community Projects of Havre de Grace. Osman can be reached at either 410-939-5412 or 443-243-7493.

Volunteers who want to work in house should arrive at the community center by 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and 9:15 a.m. if they want to deliver meals. Volunteers should bring a non-perishable food item, which will later be distributed to food pantries in the Havre de Grace area, Osman said.

The American Legion Susquehanna Post 135 in Perryville will host its fifth annual dinner on Thanksgiving Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the post at 300 Cherry St. The dinner, which can be eaten on site or taken out, is free for active-duty military members, veterans and their families, according to the Post 135 Facebook page.

‘Beyond belief’

Hope in Action typically feeds about 125 guests at its annual dinners, according to team leader Melanie Rimel-Holloway. She led the kitchen crew for the first eight years and then became leader of the team that coordinates the event in 2018 after long-serving leader Bonnie Prater stepped down as she and her husband moved out of state.

“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years, isn’t it amazing — I’m beyond belief,” Rimel-Holloway said as she stopped by the table and talked with Disbrow, Hilliard, Reynolds and Crothers.

“We serve God’s hands well,” Rimel-Holloway added.

Volunteers served the meals that had been crafted from donated food, including turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegetables, drinks and pies with whipped cream for dessert.

Deana Keifer has spent the past four years volunteering during the community dinner; she was accompanied by her daughter, Chelsea, this year.

“You don’t have to look far to find someone in need,” Deana Keifer said. “It really is a humbling experience.”

The turkeys had been donated by the Amish Farmers Market in Joppatowne, and other food and drink items were donated through the church. Church members also donated materials for bags of supplies guests could take with them as they departed. Players on the Brausa youth soccer team carried the bags for the guests.

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The meals were cooked in the Armory’s basement kitchen. Rimel-Holloway lauded those who worked with her in the kitchen starting at 8 a.m. Sunday, including Carol Rimel, Kim Fillinger, Lauren Alampi, Bailey Alampi and Michelle Lynch.

Entertainment was provided by youth and adult performers, including Havre de Grace High School student Bella Hahn, who played her flute, members of the group Havre de Grace Dancers, a Havre de Grace Recreation Committee program, and Crothers, who recited his poem “If I Could Turn Back the Pages.”

Crothers got on stage and related how he has been clean and sober from drug addiction for nearly 28 years — his sobriety started around 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 29, 1991 — and discussed his recent affiliation and volunteer work with Central Christian Church.

“While I can’t turn back the pages of a life that I’ve led/I can live life for today and prepare for what’s ahead,” Crothers recited.

“For the past is past, and our present is now/tomorrow just might never come. But, one thing is certain/I found the answer in Jesus Christ the Son,” he continued.

Crothers urged the audience, “if you’re lost within the pages and you see no end in sight/repent today and just call on Him, for He is the way, the truth, the light.”

He pointed a finger skyward as spectators applauded and cheered.

John Hagegeorge, who grew up in Fallston and travels up and down the East Coast for his career in investments, makes a point of stopping in for the Hope and Action dinner on his travels.

“This is [on] the to-do list while we’re in town, to come and visit with all these great people and share a meal together,” the 1982 Fallston High School graduate said.

Hagegeorge’s girlfriend, Kimberley Wright, of Tennessee, attended with him this year.

Wright said Bel Air, which she described as “a little town,” reminded her of her hometown.

“It’s very pretty up here,” she said. “I like it, the people are really friendly.”

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