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Two Bel Air churches team up for Thanksgiving dinner

Volunteers Larry Kropff, left, and Dora Suber, right, share a laugh with another volunteer as they prepare meals during the Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner at St. Margaret Church in Bel Air.
Volunteers Larry Kropff, left, and Dora Suber, right, share a laugh with another volunteer as they prepare meals during the Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner at St. Margaret Church in Bel Air. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF)

For those who needed a place to go on Thanksgiving in Harford, a community dinner in Bel Air once again offered food and fellowship in a family-like, turkey-filled setting.

A colorful inflated turkey decorated the stage at St. Margaret School as visitors sat down at neatly-organized and festive tables.

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The church's third annual Thanksgiving dinner was again a joint venture with New Hope Baptist Church, on nearby Alice Anne Street.

The Rev. Mark Nolan, New Hope's pastor for the past 18 years, was busy busing tables and chatting with some of the roughly 35 volunteers from the church.

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"I am really excited about St. Margaret and New Hope having partnered together in serving this community," Nolan said, adding it helps "when we see others going through whatever we may be going through."

He said the value of connecting was visible in "sitting with them and seeing how thankful they are, regardless of their circumstance."

The event was one of only a few such dinners in the area, with the largest being in Havre de Grace.

"In the general area of the Bel Air vicinity, people don't consider that there may be people who need this because of an economic condition or just to be among people," Nolan said, adding, "Holidays are some of the most difficult times for people, and loneliness, so having this going on is vital."

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Volunteers were busy serving turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and other Thanksgiving staples to visitors like Anna Willis and Diane Headen, who came with a handful of other seniors from Harford Senior Housing, off of Route 1.

"It's a great social outing for us folks," Headen said excitedly, adding that many attendees did not have family members or friends and the dinner was a "blessing."

"We don't have to eat and run. We can sit and socialize," she said. "Holidays are depressing, really depressing. It can be lonely."

Willis added the dinner "was really wonderful, the food was really great and the people were great at serving."

Maggie Fraser, another visitor from Harford Senior Housing, said the volunteers were extremely polite and kind.

"It was wonderful. I think they did a fantastic job," she said.

Marie Dekowski, St. Margaret's organizer for the event, said the dinner continues to grow, pointing out the dozens of visitors already eating at about 12:30 p.m. The dinner was set to run until 3 p.m.

"It's growing, you can see, from all the other years," she said.

About eight or nine people, who were staying at the Welcome One homeless shelter, came to the dinner. One man, who declined to give his name, said he had been at the shelter for several months because he ran out of unemployment benefits.

"I think it was very well done," he said about the dinner. "I think it was really high-quality and it's a very good option for people in my financial position."

Two volunteers from New Hope, Asia Jackson, of Aberdeen, and Andree Mountain, of Bel Air, said it gave them a chance to give back.

Jackson, who was home from college, said she was trying to spread the word about the dinner on social media.

"It means a lot to me and I enjoy doing it. I love giving back when I can," she said. "I like seeing people happy and being able to eat a nice meal."

Mountain called the dinner "beautiful."

"There are so many people, who are struggling financially, so this gives them the opportunity to partake in a traditional Thanksgiving meal," she said.

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