‘It does my heart good:’ Columbia churches partner to serve Thanksgiving meals, provide fellowship to those in need

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Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 7:21 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - For the thirty-second year, St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Columbia opened its doors to those in need on Thanksgiving and provided a hot meal to hundreds.

The event, renamed this year as the Robert Keeder Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner is jointly hosted by St. Peter’s and First Baptist Church of Columbia.

“It’s a great feeling helping out in the community, and somebody that’s by themselves, single families, somebody that doesn’t have anywhere to go, they’re welcome here,” Hal Lominick, one of the event’s coordinators, said.

The spirit of the holiday was palpable inside the church Thursday.

Robert Keeder, who founded the event, said there is beauty in both giver and receiver, who do not know each other, not last name or even first name, gathering under one roof to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.

He said the goal of the event is to “make an individual difference to every person that walks through that door.”

“Everybody’s special to us,” Keeder said.

With each serving comes a scoop of love from volunteers young and old, many of whom come back each year.

“How could you not give?” asked Roxann Lewis, a volunteer. “I just can’t imagine it. And we all need a lot of that right now, don’t we?”

Those partaking in the feast come for different reasons.

Some, like Mike Miller, are in need of a hot meal.

“It’s been a while since I’ve had this type of food anyway so it’s just a beautiful thing,” he said.

Others do not have family nearby.

Many say they come for the good company.

“I thank God that I’m able to come out here and eat in fellowship with everyone,” Quinton Weeks said.

Each one left with a full stomach, and a full heart.

“It does my heart good to see the good people around Columbia here and whatnot, they come out and they have time to come out in fellowship with us and offer us a good meal on this day,” Donnie Patterson, whose family is out of town, said. “It does my heart good. It really does. I don’t feel sad about a thing on that one now, not one thing sad about it.”

Miller gave thanks to God for the meal.

“First and foremost it’s all about the Lord,” he said. “He pretty much brings this together so he gets all the glory for it so I pretty much give it to Him. And that’s the connection, just Him allowing us to pour our hearts towards one another, being there for one another, that’s the gift of God to show love.”

More than 1,200 meals were estimated to be served this year, according to Lominick.

Keeder said he never could have imagined that 32 years later they would still be serving up Thanksgiving feasts.

He thought it may only last a few years.

But as some volunteers said, the event’s staying power shows that giving is contagious.

St. Peter’s will also be serving hot meals on Christmas day, from 1:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M.

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